Thursday, February 6, 2014

Homemade Canned Sauerkraut

This past summer I decided that I really wanted to try fermenting and canning my own sauerkraut.  And I will be doing it again this summer, but I'll be canning even more!
So, I bought 6 cabbage plants at a local nursery, planted them within our landscaping and let them do there thing throughout the summer.  Some of the plants did well, others only got to be about the size of an orange.  
I looked at a lot of recipes and methods and settled on two for my main references Bonzai Aphrodite and SBCanning for the fermentation process.  

And used the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for the canning process.

So at the end of the season, it was time to tackle my goal... fermenting my own sauerkraut!

This is what I did and how I went about canning it...

-fresh cabbage
-salt {about 2 tbsp per 2 pounds of cabbage}

*You may need more salt and some water to make extra brine; 1 tbsp per 1 cup water.

1. Harvest cabbage and peel off all the damaged outside layers.
2. Weigh cabbage.  I ended up with a total of 8.17 pounds; which isn't really much, but enough.
3. Shred the cabbage; I found that the slicing blade of my food processor worked great.  If you don't have a food processor you could just slice the heads as thin as you can.
4. Place the shredded cabbage in a large container {either a large glass or plastic food safe container will work; I don't have a traditional kraut making crock.}
I used a 2 gallon glass jar with a lid that I ordered from Amazon.  I had previously painted the outside of the jar with a special permanent glass paint...
5. Add canning/pickling salt {I actually used regular table salt} to cabbage and "message" the salt into the cabbage.  This will help the cabbage breakdown and start to release it's liquids.
6. Allow the "messaged" cabbage to sit for about 15 minutes to let the most of the liquids release.  

*Add a brine solution of 1 tbsp per 1 cup of water if needed.  You want enough liquid to rise above the cabbage when compressed.
7. Place a plate/cover or a water-filled plastic bag {I used a cover from a plastic container} on top of the cabbage.
8. Weigh the plate/cover down, using jars filled with water.  {I used 3 cleaned out peanut butter jars}
9. Cover large jar/container with a towel to allow the kraut to "breath" and yet keep everything else out.  {I also added the glass lid for my jar, a little extra weight.}
10. Place the kraut container in an area between 55 and 70 degrees.  {Lower temps will ferment a bit longer and higher temps will ferment a bit quicker.}
You know fermentation is occurring when the surface is bubbly; when it stops bubbling the fermentation is complete.  It should take about 4-6 weeks; depending on the temperature.
11. During fermentation check the kraut daily to make sure it is still submerged by about 3 inches of brine. 
Also, remove any "scum or mold" that may form; clean off weighting jars if needed.  Replace everything as was.  
{I only had a tiny bit of "scum" during the last week of fermentation, otherwise it just bubbled.}
12. After fermentation is complete the kraut in the jar should look like this...
Refrigerate and use within 3 months or can and use within 1 yearish. 

You can taste it as it ferments to see what its like; I couldn't bring myself to try it yet.

To Can Saurkraut:  {I used the hot-pack method.}
1. Place sauerkraut and brine in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2. Pack sauerkraut {with enough brine to eliminate any air bubbles in the kraut} into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
3. Wipe rim, top with lid and screw on ring to fingertip tightness.
4. Place jars in water-bath; make sure the jars are covered with at least 1 inch of water.
5. Bring to a boil and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes.
6. Remove canner lid, allow to sit 5 minutes.  Remove jars to a clean kitchen towel or wire rack to cool completely.

This sauerkraut is fantastic; use it as you would any other kraut.  
Plant some cabbage this year and enjoy!

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