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Sauerkraut


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I started a small batch (4.5 lbs cabbage) yesterday. It was cut with a chef's knife and packed into a Mexican glass aguas frescas jar. Packing it down was hard because the jar opening is narrow. I added a few mustard seeds and crushed dried juniper berries. I weighted it with two Ziploc bags, filled one with water and inside another.

It's now in a dark cupboard, at an average temp of about 68º F.

Also started a gallon of naturally fermented kosher style dill cucumbers, of which I have much more experience than sauerkraut. Those are in a one gallon commercial mayo jar.

Buen provecho, Panosmex
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  • 5 weeks later...

Cabbage is now looking great in my area, so I bought some. I vastly overestimated how much cabbage will fit in my containers. I bought about 15 heads, I think. I have tons of sauerkraut in the works. I have plain, red, plain and red with carrot, plain and red with carrot and garlic, plain and red with cayenne, kraut-chi with ginger, garlic, and New Mexico chile powder, sauerkraut with habanero. Several quarts of each. I still have 3 heads to process. Oh yeah, I have a few quarts of pickled cauliflower with cabbage leaves.

My basement is now cooler, so I hope for good results!

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A friend who lives on his boat in the Caribbean - right now in Guatemala - sent me this Recipe that he got from a lady whose husband did business with both my friend and I. I have not yet tried it and will small batch it to see if I like it.

Mrs. H. Langston's Sauerkraut:

cut up cabbage & stuff in 1 qt jar
1tbs salt
1tbs sugar
1 tbs vinegar
1 sprig dill
add boiling water to fill up jar
sit aside for 2-3 weeks and eat
I'm guessing that the product will be kinda like the store bought stuff, if so why bother? We'll see.
That said, my arms hurt. I started 37# of kraut cabbage this afternoon. About 6 Gallons.
I'll check Saturday morning to see if I need to add brine to cover, then I'll check about Halloween. I'm out of the 70# made last Sept of 12. Of course I have a daughter who with her young sons, will take it home by the gallon. Thank God she has a small reefer [but a big love for kraut].
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Robert

Seattle

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I add a peeled and shredded green apple to mine. It helps get the fermentation processes started. This is a genius way to weight down your sauerkraut or any veggie one wants to ferment. Great recipe! If possible an airlock top to the jar is optimum. It keeps out the oxygen that bad bacteria want and lets the gases escape so the jar does not explode. Creating a non aerobic environment for the fermentation process keeps the good stuff fermenting the veggies. Cabbage is one of those veggies that do not need a starter. Cucumbers are another. If you want a starter for your veggies, they can be found on line at Cultures for Health, GEM and other sites.

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So far I'm reading about using glass, crockery or plastic jars for the kraut. Would a stainless steel stock pot work, using the plate-and-weights-and-bags noted above with open-top pails? If not, why not?

On the other hand: if I were to acquire a glass or crockery jar for the purpose of making kraut, how would I go about acquiring an airlock-type lid? I understand the checkvalve principal but can't think of where I've seen something like it. A beer brewer's store, perhaps?

...and RobertCollins, I'm really glad you resurrected this thread. Even if it does mean I've yet another book winging its way toward me...

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Smithy, I can't quickly find any reference that says no to your stock pot but I'll take some time to more thoroughly look.

I use Cambro Round polyethylene containers the lid drilled to hold a cork with a water air block which vents the carbon dioxide. The Cambro, at almost any restaurant supply, the cork and air lock, at brewer and wine making supply houses.

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Robert

Seattle

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Thanks, RobertCollins! I think I'll be able to round that gear up without too much trouble.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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The only potential problem I see with using a good stainless steel stock pot is the large surface area.

It's best to limit surface area as much as possible and even though that can be countered with some of the techniques mentioned above it could still be a nuisance.
A stainless steel bain marie should work okay.
Having said that, a wide- mouth half-gallon Mason jar is my favorite kraut vessel, it'll hold about 4 pounds.

All you need for an airlock is the canning lid (no band) with a weight on top....a pint jar full of water works good.

  • Like 2

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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So far I'm reading about using glass, crockery or plastic jars for the kraut. Would a stainless steel stock pot work, using the plate-and-weights-and-bags noted above with open-top pails? If not, why not?

From Sandor Katz's website:

"What kind of vessel should you use to hold your ferment? Avoid metal, as salt and the acids created by fermentation will corrode it. Heavy ceramic cylindrical crocks are the ideal fermentation vessels, though they can be hard to find and expensive. Glass containers work well, especially those with a cylindrical shape or with a wide mouth, and so do nesting bowls. Crock pots with ceramic interiors make effective fermentation vessels and can often be found in thrift stores. In a pinch, you can use plastic, but even food-grade plastics leach toxic chemicals."

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Yet some large (and some not so large) commercial lacto-fermented sauerkraut makers use stainless.

Other metals are to be avoided.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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As far as the crocks go (they're what we used for years and years,) I don't see them as being ideal.....that includes both standard crocks as well as the crocks with the sealing lip like the Harsch-Gairtopf crocks or the Polish crocks sold by The SausageMaker in Buffalo, NY.

They're expensive, heavy, breakable, the included weights can give fits and some of the older crocks weep.

I rarely use the crocks anymore unless I feel crazy enough to make an occasional huge batch, which doesn't happen very often anymore.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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  • 1 month later...

Well. Sometime long about mid-October I was given a large head of cabbage from a friend's garden. I washed, shredded in the food processor, and packed it into a 1-gallon glass canning jar. I followed the instructions above regarding the amount of salt - overall, I think that head of cabbage got 3 - 4 Tbsp of salt packed into the leaves at the outset. I used some of the large outer leaves to hold the rest down, and filled up the rest of the space with a Ziplock ™ storage bag full of water. In order to make sure there was enough liquid to cover the shredded kraut I added some water, and then in order to ensure that the brine was salty enough I added more salt. (In other words, the salt/water/cabbage ratio wasn't very scientific, but it leaned toward salt overkill.) I didn't seal the jar, but instead topped it with a silicone lid that makes a nice tight seal for things trying to enter but allows gases to escape.

Somewhere after 2 weeks I lifted the lid and sniffed. It smelled like kraut. I let it continue. Sometime after that I had to seal the lid for transport. So far, no explosions.

Tonight we had our first dinner of sauerkraut and potatoes, with some pork chops. How gratifying! The flavor was excellent, and we have half a gallon left. I'm very glad I got around to trying this!

  • Like 2

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Well. Sometime long about mid-October I was given a large head of cabbage from a friend's garden. I washed, shredded in the food processor, and packed it into a 1-gallon glass canning jar. I followed the instructions above regarding the amount of salt - overall, I think that head of cabbage got 3 - 4 Tbsp of salt packed into the leaves at the outset. I used some of the large outer leaves to hold the rest down, and filled up the rest of the space with a Ziplock storage bag full of water. In order to make sure there was enough liquid to cover the shredded kraut I added some water, and then in order to ensure that the brine was salty enough I added more salt. (In other words, the salt/water/cabbage ratio wasn't very scientific, but it leaned toward salt overkill.) I didn't seal the jar, but instead topped it with a silicone lid that makes a nice tight seal for things trying to enter but allows gases to escape.

Somewhere after 2 weeks I lifted the lid and sniffed. It smelled like kraut. I let it continue. Sometime after that I had to seal the lid for transport. So far, no explosions.

Tonight we had our first dinner of sauerkraut and potatoes, with some pork chops. How gratifying! The flavor was excellent, and we have half a gallon left. I'm very glad I got around to trying this!

Do you have a picture of the lid?

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Well. Sometime long about mid-October I was given a large head of cabbage from a friend's garden. I washed, shredded in the food processor, and packed it into a 1-gallon glass canning jar. I followed the instructions above regarding the amount of salt - overall, I think that head of cabbage got 3 - 4 Tbsp of salt packed into the leaves at the outset. I used some of the large outer leaves to hold the rest down, and filled up the rest of the space with a Ziplock ™ storage bag full of water. In order to make sure there was enough liquid to cover the shredded kraut I added some water, and then in order to ensure that the brine was salty enough I added more salt. (In other words, the salt/water/cabbage ratio wasn't very scientific, but it leaned toward salt overkill.) I didn't seal the jar, but instead topped it with a silicone lid that makes a nice tight seal for things trying to enter but allows gases to escape.

Somewhere after 2 weeks I lifted the lid and sniffed. It smelled like kraut. I let it continue. Sometime after that I had to seal the lid for transport. So far, no explosions.

Tonight we had our first dinner of sauerkraut and potatoes, with some pork chops. How gratifying! The flavor was excellent, and we have half a gallon left. I'm very glad I got around to trying this!

Do you have a picture of the lid?
I've been meaning to post about this on the Kitchen Consumer topic, but here's a great intro. I've been quite taken with the Charles Viancin silicon lids. Mine are shaped like lily pads, but they now come in sunflower and banana leaf shapes as well, and in various sizes. The bottoms are so smooth that they make a very tight seal with any other smooth surface, so air can escape but not return. The lily pad I used was slightly larger than the jar opening. I've included another photo with different sizes.

IMG_20131114_194100.jpg

IMG_20131114_194138.jpg

  • Like 1

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just got around to pulling my first lot of Sauerkraut from my MS-Steinzeugwaren Gartopf pot. Because of other commitments, I've left it for a long time (probably twelve weeks or more) but was particular about ensuring that the well was filled with water to ensure anaerobic fermentation.

The kraut was well submerged under the pottery weights and came out perfectly. It is the best sauerkraut that I've ever had and the sour/salt balance is just perfect. It matured in my garage which sits under townhouses at the back of our complex and is fairly constant in temperature (around 19-23C).

As it's an acidic product with good salt content, I'm planning on vacuum sealing the kraut with some of the fermenting liquid and storing it in the refrigerator (which runs around 1C) until use. Botulism is not a factor given the high acidity and salt all the other aerobic nasties have been removed through the fermentation process. Any comments on this storage method?

Edited by nickrey (log)
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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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There's nothing wrong with storing it that way but I personally feel more comfortable storing in glass rather than plastic.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I just got around to pulling my first lot of Sauerkraut from my MS-Steinzeugwaren Gartopf pot. Because of other commitments, I've left it for a long time (probably twelve weeks or more) but was particular about ensuring that the well was filled with water to ensure anaerobic fermentation.

The kraut was well submerged under the pottery weights and came out perfectly. It is the best sauerkraut that I've ever had and the sour/salt balance is just perfect. It matured in my garage which sits under townhouses at the back of our complex and is fairly constant in temperature (around 19-23C).

As it's an acidic product with good salt content, I'm planning on vacuum sealing the kraut with some of the fermenting liquid and storing it in the refrigerator (which runs around 1C) until use. Botulism is not a factor given the high acidity and salt all the other aerobic nasties have been removed through the fermentation process. Any comments on this storage method?

I don't see anything wrong the storage method, either, but I wonder whether the vacuum sealing is necessary, given that it will be kept in the refrigerator. Assuming you do vacuum seal it, how will you pull a vacuum without getting liquid into the seal? (Note, I haven't played with vacuum packers at all, so the answer may be obvious to experienced vacuum sealer users.)

Congratulations on your batch!

  • Like 1

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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  • 1 month later...

Making a batch of kraut, now 3 weeks of fermentation, and things have stalled. No more gas production.

Should I just leave it alone or maybe add a little liquid from some store-bought kraut to serve as a re-starter?

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Leave it completely alone....it's likely fine...gas production naturally ceases.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Agreed. Sandor Katz even mentions this in his books.

Also, your kraut is going through stages. There are generations of bacteria, with the early ones providing food to later generations and flavor to you. Introducing bacteria from already finished products shortcuts the process, bringing in the later generations too early. No risk, but it is claimed that the final product is less complex, less tasty.

For some things, there is a stage where everything gets really slimy and gross looking. There is a certain bacteria that does that. Then a later generation kills that one and eats the slime. The slime disappears. It is all very fascinating.

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Interestingly, the bottom of the jar looks like kraut...translucent. The top 90% looks unfermented.

Aerobic vs anaerobic?

Wondering.

Its in a sealed jar with an airlock. Kraut covered in brine, pressed-upon by water filled plastic bag. It was producing gas happily in the beginning it should have used up most of the available O2 in the process.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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