Making sauerkraut for the first time

I started my first batch of sauerkraut today. I have been watching the cabbage grow but was unsure when to pick them. The answer I found online: when the heads are hard. I immediately went out and harvested two. We’ve had a long rainy spell in Oregon so I was worried about the cabbage heads splitting. It looks like the biggest cabbage had just started to split so I picked it in the nick of time. The largest head was 6.5 lbs and the other head weighed 5.5 lbs.

The recipe I followed was for the Sweet Kraut found on page 187 of The Joy of Pickling. According to the author, the sauerkraut isn’t sweet, but it is milder in flavor than other krauts. After slicing 10 pounds of cabbage I am reminded again how much I want a mandolin slicer. Hopefully I didn’t mess the recipe up because chopping 10 lbs of cabbage into 1/16″ thick slices is bloody impossible for me. I don’t have ninja knife talents.

According to my book the sauerkraut will be done in 2 to 4 weeks if the temperature is around 70°F to 75° or 5 to 6 weeks if the temperature is around 60°. Oregon weather should be somewhere in the middle, unless we get a hot spell.

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8 Responses to Making sauerkraut for the first time

  1. Ron says:

    Nice cabbage!

    We started our first batch about a week ago. It smells pretty good so far! I detest chopping large quantities of produce into carefully-measured pieces… so we used the el-cheapo food processor. That worked very well for making fairly uniform pieces.

    I had always held off on making it because I thought we needed a ceramic crock… but we’re making ours in a food-grade 5 gallon bucket.

    • lee says:

      We checked on ours yesterday and it was also starting to smell like sauerkraut. It was a relief to not find any weird fuzzy molds floating on the surface.

      Yeah, I know the crock is overkill, but it is fun to use. Most beer & wine making stores sell 5 gallon buckets with a sealing lid and an airlock, and that would definitely be cheaper. For that matter, I guess the air lock is optional if you keep everything well submerged.

  2. lym says:

    I made a big bucket of sauerkraut last year. I used a recipe I found on you tube which involved layering the cabbage with slices of fresh horseradish, which supposedly stopped the mould forming, as well as adding a bit of extra punch into the mix. It took just over two weeks, and we made so much, we still have some left now. Brilliant way of preserving food – and very good for you too! Look forward to hearing how yours turned out!

    • lee says:

      We taste tested ours this week and we are going to let it mature a little more. The sugar made for an almost too-mild flavor, but it’s nice and crunchy! I’ll have to track down that YouTube recipe you mentioned. I love horseradish.

  3. Rachel says:

    Oh Robin please get a mandolin slicer! You will love love love it–as long as you don’t cut the tip of your finger off anyway… and I’m sure I will every time I use mine since I tend to be clumsy with sharp things.

    I have this one: “Kyocera CSN-202-RD Adjustable Mandoline Slicer” (A search on amazon should turn it up.)

    It’s easy to use and clean. It’s very sharp and cuts up cabbage(cut in half first), cucumbers, onions carrots etc just fine. I’ve been using mine on average 1-2times a week for 3 years now without a problem My only complaint would be that I only ever use it on it’s thickest setting (3 mm) and I’d like to have a thicker option. I opted for a cheap simple model because I wasn’t sure how much I’d be using it, but you might want to spend a little more and get one with a julienne or shred option too.

    • robin says:

      Thanks for the recommendation Rachel. I think I will be sure to get one with more blade options. I have a mandolin slicer in my amazon cart but I never end up buying it because I think I don’t need it yet. Then when I NEED one I don’t want to wait a few days for the shipping. I hope I don’t cut the tip of my finger off every time I use it though. Eeeks!

  4. dace says:

    My first was in 8th grade science class!

  5. Pingback: Things we forgot to mention in 2012 | Farm Folly

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