Making Sauerkraut
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  1. #1
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    Default Making Sauerkraut

    I took the plunge into fermenting vegetables this week. I got ahold of a pint of homemade sauerkraut last year and decided then that I would start putting up my own. It was incredible. I didn't want to fool with a crock or a churn so I opted to go with 1/2 gallon jars and "easy fermenter" lid. I got the lids on Amazon last fall. I hadn't opened them until this week and didn't look at 2 of the 3 until tonight. One of them has a defect in the air lock system. I contacted them tonight to see if they'll make it good, but I doubt they do since I've owned it for 9 months.

    I used a slightly different recipe on each jar so I could compare and see which I liked better. I used only salt in one jar and different amounts of salt and whey that I collected from buttermilk in the other two jars. I've got 18 days left before I can dig in to the jar I put up Tuesday night.

    Anyone else make sauerkraut or ferment other vegetables? I'd like to get some recipes if any of you do.

    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I got a reply email from Nourished Essentials, the manufacturer or at least distributor of the lids. They are mailing me a new one at no charge. I thought that was great customer service since I bought these so long ago and hadn't opened them until this week.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I make mine in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid fitted with a bubble air lock. 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to 5 lbs of cabbage. I get about 35 lbs in 5 gallon bucket. I let it ferment about 2 months and freeze in 2 lb bags. I have made it with only a bath towel draped over the bucket. I use a bungee cord to seal the towel so bugs don't get in.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Jim, do you put any weights on top of the cabbage in the bucket? I made about 4 gallons this afternoon and used a churn this time. The churn is definitely faster.

    How long will the frozen kraut keep? Any idea if freezing kills the probiotics in the kraut? I've read that putting finished kraut in sealed jars will keep up to a year in the fridge. I have an old fridge in the barn, that's what I had planned to do with it.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I have plastic dinner plate that just fits in the bucket and I put a gallon milk jug full of water on top of it to keep the cabbage submerged. Keep an eye on the brine level so the cabbage stays submerged or it will rot. Mine foams over at the start so I set the bucket in a plastic dish washing basin.
    I don't know about the probiotics but mine stays good for year frozen. I know the old timers kept it a long time in the barrel or crock. i would think it might change texture over time.
    My adult kids never ate canned kraut but love the homemade stuff. I cut it a little on the coarse side and just pack it in the bucket by hand. I've seen some people beat it into the crock to crush the cabbage. Try adding about a teaspoon of caraway seeds per 5 lbs of cabbage to the mix when you make it.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Thanks for the replies Jim.

    This is my first year to make any, or try to make any I should say.

    I borrowed my sis in laws high dollar kraut churn. It has ceramic disk weights that hold the cabbage down, but I don't think they are heavy enough. They are about an inch thick and right now the brine is up to the top of those weights. Do you think I'll have to add any, at any time later? This crock has a lid and you pour water around the rim of the lid to seal oxygen from getting in the crock. I put full cabbage leaves over the top of the shredded cabbage, then put the weights on. So right now it's completely submerged. Hopefull it will stay that way.

    I was going to try some Caraway seeds but I didn't find any at our local grocery store.

    I used right at 3 T of pickling salt per 5 lbs of cabbage. That seemed to be the most recommended amount online.

    Any more advise?
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I tried it in quart jars following this site: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-...raut-in-a-jar/

    I used just cabbage and salt. It's way too salty, but aside from that, the flavor is not bad. Still ok on a hot dog, but sure needs less salt.

    I'm a potter, and am planning on making a large stoneware fermenting crock with weights sometime this summer. Will incorporate a water seal in the lid.

    I may try the primary wine bucket with airlock approach. I think a dinner plate might fit in my smaller diameter fermentors.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I hope mine isn't too salty but I figure it will be close even if it isn't. You'll be set once you make your own crock.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    As long as the brine stays over the cabbage you're good. Add water as needed if it evaporates down. Just make sure to keep it covered with a thin mesh cloth or towel and a bungee cord to seal the towel or flies will get in. Maggots will grow in the brine. I keep mine in the basement so is stays cool while fermenting. I kept it in a 3 season room once and it didn't do as well.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Thanks Jim. The crock I borrowed from my SIL has a lid and you pour water in the rim that the lids sits in so there's no way for flies to get in. It's a whole lid sized airlock.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    One of the "high-dollar" items is likely one made by Ohio Stoneware. It's a nice crock, and I bought one for my wife. We make excellent sauerkraut with it. There are opinions running around saying that the lid cut-out makes the airlock useless, but I decided that having a notch in the airlock lid means that you can readily monitor the fermentation process. The air bubbles out at the notch, not some random place around the lid periphery determined by how level the floor is. That does eat up some of the water moat depth margin, but I decided it was an acceptable penalty for being able to orient the bubbler where _I_ want it. I have no connection whatsoever with Ohio Stoneware other than as a satisfied customer.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Yes, homemade sauerkraut is the bomb! I've been making it for about 5 years. Your kraut looks delish.

    Early on I added in some veggies (carrots, beet, golden beet, rutabaga, turnips, kale) and it turned out wonderful. And really pretty too. I've gotten a little lazy and now just use cabbage. 3T canning salt per 5lb cabbage. I slice the cabbage with a knife as I prefer it to be chunky and seems to make it crunchier.

    Until last year, I packed it in a churn, topped it with whole cabbage leaves, weighted with saucers, covered the churn with a woven cloth and plate. Often enough, I would get some mold and have to skim that and siphon off the brine on top. Last year at an estate sale, I bought a German fermenting crock with the trough for a water seal. Sounds the same as what your SIL has. I still pack it down tight and use whole leaves to cover the cabbage. Have found no mold using the water seal.

    I used to crush the cabbage. I've discovered that it works out just fine to cover the well mixed salted cabbage and let it sit for a time until it wilts down. Then pack it tightly in the fermenting container as it is put it in so that there are no air pockets. Add brine as needed to completely cover the stones. I use distilled water if I have to add any.

    Just opened a batch a few days ago. This time I added brine to make the seal instead of plain water. I believe the brine may have been pulled into the crock as the kraut seems more salty than any previous batch. Don't believe I lost track and put more salt in. Also the brine level was higher than I remembered before closing up. It's so salty that we'll be eating it with something to help dilute the saltiness - pinto beans and cornbread work well for that. I set the whole crock in a backup refrigerator so I haven't gotten below the top layer. I'm hoping the saltiness will lessen as I dig deeper.

    I usually pack it into wide-mouth pint jars and top with those plastic non-sealing storage lids. And set them in the backup refrigerator until use. I don't can the kraut because I need it to be raw. Helps with digestive issues. That's what got me making it. At the time I felt like it saved my life.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Late to this thread, but I do similar to Jim's method. I like a bit of caraway seed in the mix but this year I'm going to try a bit of dill seed to see how that tastes. Good luck to all you kraut makers.

    BTW.... a little kraut on homemade pizza is great too.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Thanks for all the replies!

    sandmtn, yes this is a German or Polish style fermentation crock. I'm also doing this for the probiotics. I can hardly read the words "stomach virus" without getting one and I get more than my fair share of colds too. I have read that the probiotics will help with both. Since there are more probiotics in one spoon of homeade kraut (or other fermented foods) than there is a whole bottle of probiotic pills, it seemed like a no brainer to me. Plus I LOVE sauerkraut.

    I also want to try fermenting more types of vegetables and other things. I saw a recipe for fermented salsa. I'm definitely going to try that. Also saw one for Raisin Chutney, I'll be trying that one too.

    I cheated and opened the first jar tonight and had a taste. It's been 6 days since I started it. It was REALLY tangy and too salty. I hope both mellow some as it continues to ferment. I messed up with that jar and cut the cabbage way too small. It's more grated than shredded. My other jars and the crock are coarsely shredded.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim KS View Post
    BTW.... a little kraut on homemade pizza is great too.
    I bet it is. IMO Kraut would be good on about anyting other than Raisin Bran. I have been known to just eat bowl fulls of kraut right by itself.

    Let us know how the dill turns out. I started to put some garlic in one jar but decided to stay pretty "bland" with this first round.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Didn't know about help with colds. But I can support that assertion - it's been years since I've had a cold. Don't remember. And same for tummy virus.

    Glad to hear you've found the fix. And loving it is a great bonus! Sounds like your having fun with your experimentations.

    My problem is that I don't digest food well any more. That is if I stop eating sauerkraut on a regular basis. From what I understand, two things can cause that - age-related decline in digestive enzyme creation by the body and eating GMO foods. At my worst I had been eating a lot of corn. Recently I was on a corn flakes kick and as can be predicted now, started having trouble again.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Try growing your own cabbage for even better results. It makes better brine because the water content is higher when it's fresh harvested. 6 plants will yield about 30 lbs of cut cabbage. Plant in the late summer so it grows in the cooler weather.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    sandmtn, I meant to more specifically say that the probiotics, by populating your intestine with lots of good bacteria, helps boost your immune system. Of course that's what I read on fermenting websites and they are likely pretty biased. Worst case scenario, fermenting does raise the Vit C levels of the cabbage considerably.

    Jim, I didn't plant any cabbage this past fall due to the "catastrophic" drought we were in. We didn't get much rain from early April on through the rest of the year, but we didn't get a drop from September when most fall gardens are planted here, until the week before Thanksgiving.

    The cabbage that I used were cut the day I bought them. There is an organic vegetable "truck" farm about 3 miles from my house. Up side to all of this is they want me to bring some hives out there. I won't have to worry about pesticides or herbicides and it takes less than 5 minutes to drive over.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    I make kraut by layering and sprinkling cabbage with salt in a five gallon bucket lined with a non scented clear trashbag. When bucket is 3/4 full, I twist the bag into a tail and lay it outside the bucket and add another bag full of water over the to for weight. Leave in the cool dark basement for three months. Then I freeze in jars or pressure can. That kills the probiota but it still tastes good for years.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Making Sauerkraut

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    Thanks for all the replies!

    sandmtn, yes this is a German or Polish style fermentation crock. I'm also doing this for the probiotics. I can hardly read the words "stomach virus" without getting one and I get more than my fair share of colds too. I have read that the probiotics will help with both. Since there are more probiotics in one spoon of homeade kraut (or other fermented foods) than there is a whole bottle of probiotic pills, it seemed like a no brainer to me. Plus I LOVE sauerkraut.

    I also want to try fermenting more types of vegetables and other things. I saw a recipe for fermented salsa. I'm definitely going to try that. Also saw one for Raisin Chutney, I'll be trying that one too.

    I cheated and opened the first jar tonight and had a taste. It's been 6 days since I started it. It was REALLY tangy and too salty. I hope both mellow some as it continues to ferment. I messed up with that jar and cut the cabbage way too small. It's more grated than shredded. My other jars and the crock are coarsely shredded.
    Did you find these recipes specifically in a book or magazine? They sound great! I planted 6 cabbages, guess I'll plant more. Now I have to but the crock et al.
    Western Catskill Mountains
    Proverbs 16:24

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