Ode to Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut directly translated means sour cabbage and is a very typical German food. Sauerkraut is finely sliced fermented cabbage and has a very distinctive sour flavor. A popular German dish is Sauerkraut served with Schupfnudeln (potato noodles). However, you can serve your Sauerkraut with roast pork or sausages. It is a popular beer garden food. […]

Ode to Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut directly translated means sour cabbage and is a very typical German food. Sauerkraut is finely sliced fermented cabbage and has a very distinctive sour flavor.

A popular German dish is Sauerkraut served with Schupfnudeln (potato noodles). However, you can serve your Sauerkraut with roast pork or sausages. It is a popular beer garden food.

Sauerkraut, like all cabbage recipes, is of course, very healthy, full of vitamin C and other nutrients. However, one word of warning, if you are not used to eating it, be careful, as it can upset the stomach.

I learned how to make sauerkraut from my wife’s grandmother who is German. In this recipe I am trying to incorporate all my answers to the different questions that I have been asked when I have posted this before.

For best results weigh the cabbage and the salt using a ratio of 40 pounds of cabbage to one pound of salt. One cabbage makes a lot of cabbage that is cut up. So if you used a one pound cabbage it would equal to a 16 oz. bag.

I use a kraut cutter and a crock, but any container and a sharp knife will do. You can use bread or cutting board and a large knife to cut the cabbage.

Remove the outside green and dirty leaves. Cut the heads of cabbage in half and remove as much of the core that you can. Now is the time to weigh the head of cabbage. We keep a running total of the cabbage we use to make sure that we use the right ratio of salt to cabbage. When we find out the total amount of cabbage we are using then we measure out the exact amount of salt needed. We use a kitchen scale to weigh the cabbage and salt.

Put about 5 pounds of cabbage and about 2 ounces of salt into a large bowl and mix with your hands. Put into a crock and pack gently with a potato masher and tamp the cabbage down until some juice comes to the top. The first batch may not bring up juice but, after putting in the second batch of cabbage and salt the juice should easily come to the top. Repeat until you have used up all the cabbage and the correct amount of salt. You must not store your kraut in a metal container.

After the last shredded cabbage and salt are put in the crock work the cabbage with the potato masher until juice comes to the top. We use a piece of white cloth such as a piece of a sheet to cover the kraut. Then we put boards on the cloth and a stone to weigh the kraut down so the juice comes to the top. Some people use one or more large plastic bags filled with water to weigh the kraut down so it is under the juice. If you use plastic bags make sure they are the kind that can be used with food. Garbage bags won’t do.

During the curing process, kraut requires daily attention. Remove scum as it forms and wash and scald the cloth often to keep it free from scum and mold and wipe the side of the crock. Fermentation will be complete in about three weeks. The kraut should be kept in a place where the temperature is in the mid-50s to low 60s. It needs just enough warmth to keep it working during the fermenting process. Yet not so hot that it will spoil.

Kraut works from the top down. To check to see if the kraut is ready wait about 2 weeks and dig down in the center of the kraut about 5 or 8 inches. Take a little out and taste it. The kraut should be firm but not crunchy and should have good kraut flavor. If it is not ready let it sit for a few more days and then taste it again.

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