Making Homemade Sauerkraut, Just Do It

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Kimchi, Ruby and Plain Sauerkraut

The way I used to make sauerkraut, using recycled pickle jars.

Making sauerkraut used to be so simple.

I'd slice cabbage thinly, throw in some salt and mix, place in a jar, wait a few days and voila! Sauerkraut!

But then it got really complicated.  Everyone has an opinion on sauerkraut.

  • You had better make your own because store bought isn't good enough.
  • There are certain kinds of salt you should, or shouldn't use.
  • You have to use exactly the right ratio of salt to cabbage.
  • One source recommends hand slicing your cabbage, while another advises using an expensive mandolin.
  • Don't use a regular canning jar, you need to invest in an anaerobic jar.
  • The temperature needs to be just so, which means you might even need to build someplace cool enough to ferment your sauerkraut. Or maybe modify a small refrigerator to stay at the right temperature.
  • Oh, and guess what? Sauerkraut isn't done in a few days, rather it needs to ferment for weeks or months.

Are you overwhelmed yet?

At times like these, I dislike the Internet, because I definitely get overloaded from all the information.

With so many options, warnings and information, who knows what is the right thing is to do?

Unfortunately, when I'm overwhelmed, I tend to disconnect.

For awhile I bought Bubbies sauerkraut, but it's so expensive! And it's flash heated, not pasteurized, which allows some of the bacteria  to remain live. My understanding is they need to flash heat to prevent the jars from leaking all over in the grocery store (due to the activity of the live bacteria).

But it's not as bacteria-laden as homemade. Eventually I just stopped eating sauerkraut. That's bad.

I've been telling myself I'm going to get back to eating full GAPS, and one step in that direction is to make sauerkraut.

I have tried to do the right thing when it comes to making sauerkraut. I've bought several products that are said to be best… I bought a super nice mandolin, and the protective gloves to go with it.

While I like the idea of using the mandolin, it didn't work real well for me. For one thing, it's really messy. Cabbage ends up all over the counter. It's harder than it needs to be, and takes energy and muscle power to keep pressing the cabbage over the slicer. And it is time consuming. I would say it takes at least an hour or two. And lastly, I would cut the cabbage in fourths and shred on the mandolin, but when it got down to the outer three or four leaves of the cabbage, those couldn't be sliced. So then I'd end up with my knife after all, slicing the big leaves into tiny thin strips.

I had one quart-sized anaerobic jar, sent to me for review and one quart of sauerkraut doesn't last very long.

And buying more jars… they are just so expensive. I do believe the anaerobic version of sauerkraut is best, so I needed more and bigger jars. A friend of mine suggested that I buy the top part of the lid from The Probiotic Jar, and then invest in large Fido jars.

I am pretty sure that was last year around this time.

I did make sauerkraut one time in the spring, but it was already getting too warm here and my sauerkraut ended up going bad. That was really frustrating!

Just Do It!

So on Friday night, I bought nine heads of cabbage. Thankfully they are on the “clean” vegetables list… and yesterday, I actually put up one batch of sauerkraut!

Before Black Friday, I invested in a new food processor. It was a Deal of the Day sale, and $70 less than the regular price.

I've had a chance to use it in the last couple of weeks, and it is pretty amazing. It dices! I made soup one day and diced a bunch of carrots and it was so fast!

Carrots Diced in Food Processor

Sometimes we just have to use the tools available to us, you know?

While I love the process of using the mandolin and cutting everything by hand, my time is limited (I know this is true for most people who work and have children) and I'm realizing I need to take shortcuts. Yay Instant Pot!

Yesterday, I decided I was going to get the sauerkraut started. By some miracle, I found the big Fido jar I'd purchased last year. I knew right where the Probiotic jar lids were – AND BONUS – the super fine grind pink salt was with the lids! Whoohoo!

I am now the proud owner of 8 pounds of salted cabbage. 🙂

I think I will make sauerkraut more often, since it is so much easier! In fact, today I will put together a jar of cortido.

Here's how I made my sauerkraut. You'll need one of these Fido 5 liter jar.  5 liters is about 169 ounces, or 5 quarts. This is the lid I'm using: Probiotic Jar lids.

  • 5 liter glass Fido jar
  • 8 pounds cabbage (4 heads cabbage – starting weight 10 pounds)
  • 45 grams super fine pink Himalayan salt [affiliate link] (5-6 grams of salt per pound of cabbage)

I recommend starting with at least 10 pounds of cabbage.

Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove core and stem, and one outer leaf.

Since I do adhere to the salt to cabbage ratio, I recommend at this point to weigh each quarter. This way, you'll know exactly how much the cabbage weighs. When you have 8 pounds of cabbage quarters, start shredding!

That's the amount I was able to fit into the 5 liter jar leaving 2″ head space.

The recommendation from The Probiotic Jar is 5-6 grams of super fine grind salt per 1 pound of cabbage.

The food processor was wondrous for slicing the cabbage. The processor has an adjustable blade, so I put it at setting “2”. This made very thin shreds. The bowl holds 14 cups, so I was able to shred one whole cabbage at a time. And there was very little waste. Every quarter shredded down to just one little piece of a leaf, as you can see in the next image.

Head of cabbage sliced in food processor

Since I had already weighed the quarters, and knew I had eight pounds of cabbage, I just dumped each full bowl of shredded cabbage into my biggest stock pot, and added some of the salt I'd already measured.

When I got all the cabbage shredded (which took less than 10 minutes! WHOOT!) and in the big pot, I mixed and mixed, to make sure the salt was all over the cabbage.

I let it set for awhile, and word has it that we really don't need to pound the cabbage, so after half an hour or so I mixed the cabbage a bit more with my hand, and also squeezed and pressed to help it wilt a little faster.

Finally, I put it into the big Fido jar. That's EIGHT pounds of cabbage, on its way to being sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut in Fido Jar with Probiotic Jar Lid

It is recommended to allow sauerkraut to ferment for 12 weeks! So, I guess this batch won't be ready until early March! But at least I've got it started.

Have you been hesitating to make sauerkraut? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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