Sauerkraut….an Ambitious Endeavor

 While shopping the other day I passed by a bin of gigantic cabbages. They were 5 lbs for a dollar and I thought, “Wow! That’s a lot of food for 20 cents a pound!”. I decided to buy one and see what I might be able to do with it. Since we don’t particularly want to eat cabbage for a week straight I figured I’d try to make it into sauerkraut. My parents did this when I was a kid and Mom came down to help me out. We used a recipe from my Stocking Up (Rodale Press) book. I LOVE that book. My parents had one when I was a kid and I found it at a used bookstore and decided my collection of “living off the land” type books wouldn’t be complete without it.
 
 What you need:
Cabbage
Salt
Honey
Sterile canning jars with lids and rings

 

 

 The cabbage I bought was 26 lbs and yielded 19 quarts. I bought it because it was an awesome deal, but it was a little difficult to cut up compared to “normal” sized cabbages.
 
 Remove any “ickiness” on the cabbage. Trim off any “funk” and cut the cabbage into pieces that you can easily handle. Finely shred the cabbage and pack into the sterile jars. Pack the jars within and inch of the top. While you’re working on packing the jars, get your water boiling. You’ll need enough water to fill all of your jars.

 Once all of the jars are packed, add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of honey to the top of each jar. Then, fill the jars with boiling water to within a half-inch of the rim. This will disperse the salt and honey. Once you’ve filled the jars with the boiling water, take a knife and release the air bubbles.
 Once you’ve done this, you may have to add a little bit more cabbage and water to top off the jars. Once they’re full, wipe the rims and put the lids and rings on and screw them down tight. 
  After you’ve filled and lidded all of the jars, they recommend placing them in a dish pan or something as the kraut will “perk” and leak as it ferments. I put mine in plastic totes because it’s what I had handy. I’m also hoping that with the lids on the totes it will contain the smell. The book states that the temperature should be between 65 and 70 degrees. If they begin to leak, clean them up and tighten the lids. It states not to ever open the lids until they are done fermenting, which should take about 6 weeks. If you’re going to use the kraut within 30 days, you don’t need to process it further. If not, process it in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
 Tada! I made 19 quarts of kraut for less than $8. I’ll be back in about 6 weeks with an update!
M

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