Beauty and the practical beast

Today I put the sauerkraut I started at the beginning of the month into pint jars. The wine kraut fermented in a two-dollar two-gallon food grade bucket with an airlock. The regular sauerkraut fermented in a 10 liter Harsch crock with a water seal lid.

Plastic verses ceramic

Before we started the second batch of kraut, we needed a fermentation container. I really wanted another water seal crock but I didn’t want to spend the money for it. Harsch crocks are no longer available and the Nik Schmitt equivalent is even more expensive. We picked up the bucket and airlock at our local home brew store for under five dollars. I felt happy we saved money but bummed out because the water seal crocks are awesome.

After using both of them I was surprised at which one I preferred. The plastic bucket was easier to move, easier to fill, easier to clean and I didn’t have to worry about the water seal running dry. The down side was it didn’t have stone weights and it looks ugly.

The ceramic crock scratches the counter every time I move it (which will be a problem when we have nicer counters). The water seal gets slimy and ran out of water a couple times which made the brine inside evaporate a little. It’s a pain to move (HEAVY) and a pain to wash. I also chipped the lip a few days ago when I hit it with our glass flour jar. The only upside I can see is that it’s pretty–like leave on your countertop even when it’s empty pretty. It makes you feel equal parts posh hipster and authentic German grandmother.

The one difference I saw between the two sauerkrauts was that the kraut in the bucket fermented faster, so the kraut in the crock was crunchier. The ceramic crock has more thermal mass, so it seemed to stay cooler during the day and slowed the fermentation rate.

Kraut in the fridge

I’m loving the Wine Kraut I made. We have five pints of it and nine pints of regular sauerkraut. Some of our friends loved the sweet kraut I made last time, so I am anxious to see how they react to these new versions.

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6 Responses to Beauty and the practical beast

  1. Elliee k says:

    We love the wine kraut. We have visited Germany a number of times and the kraut and sausage is one of my favorite foods. It has been years since I made kraut, you brought back some memories, thanks.

  2. ShimFarm says:

    Being of German stock, this post makes me laugh. I remember so many sauerkraut experiments from my childhood LOL. I think the Gaertopf is still standing in the front hall closet at my parent’s house.

    Today, there is nothing you can do to convince my mother to make sauerkraut the “old fashioned” way again.

    Once your kraut is fermented, how do you serve it?

    • robin says:

      How funny. I don’t think I’ve known anyone else who has made sauerkraut before. It’s so easy that I can’t imagine not making it now. Our last batch lasted us ages (because even though we like it I still don’t want to eat it every day) and now that I am writing you about it I am suddenly hungry. We usually eat the kraut with sausage and potatoes. Not very creative I know but it’s always so satisfying.

      How does your mom make it now? Did you have a favorite recipe from your childhood?

  3. Yvette says:

    I would love to know how you make your kraut. I have my grandmothers crocks (the largest is 15 gallons!) and want to put them back into use. (These old gals are at least 90, if not older and have been in retirement since @ least 1985). They do not have lids or even the water ring in the bases. I tried pickles last year in a 3 gallon but I think it was far too hot in my kitchen.

    • robin says:

      That is really neat Yvette! The kraut recipes I followed were just from a pickling book. I believe the ratio was three Tablespoons of salt for 5 lbs of cabbage. The wine and other flavors are just add ons. ­čÖé

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