My husband is 100% German. This means we make sauerkraut every year. Fresh sauerkraut…..sauerkraut and spareribs kind of sauerkraut….homemade sausage and sauerkraut kind of sauerkraut, sit and ferment for a few months kind of sauerkraut …..Well, you get it, right? AMAZING sauerkraut.
So I have decided that EVERYONE should know how to make sauerkraut….because it just isn’t that hard, and it is sooooo delish! Let me explain something. I had a whole different perspective on sauerkraut before I met my husband, and his Mom made sauerkraut and spareribs for me! I had already decided that sauerkraut was simply NOT my thing. I simply do not like it! I said, “Never have, never will! I do not like it with sausage, I do not like it with spareribs, I do not like it with hot dogs, I do not like it on a Rueben sandwich. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, the ‘Sam I am’ kind of do not like!” WELL, my mind was forever changed that wonderful lazy afternoon that we had dinner with my hubby’s Mom and Dad because, apparently, sauerkraut made the correct way is nothing like sauerkraut made the incorrect way! God help me, I was addicted! “Give me some more of that right now” kind of addicted!
So, I plan to show you how to make your own sauerkraut. THEN, in another blog that I PROMISE to do, I will show you how to use it correctly, perhaps in a sparerib and sauerkraut recipe. Hubby’s Mom’s recipe. Okay? Okay.
First, You want to purchase a nice crock. Many stores have crocks in all sizes from small to large. We have a large 5 gallon crock in this photo, and the smaller one you see is a 3 gallon crock. We got together with some family members and made our batches of sauerkraut together. The more people you have to help the better because the shredding part is time consuming and hard work.
You also want a shredder. We had two: Gary’s relatives brought his great grandmother’s that has gone through the family and a new one that we purchased for our own use that hopefully my great-grandchildren will use one day!
When you purchase your cabbage try to get the really big ones. Cut them up into wedges like this.
Then you shred, shred, shred the cabbage into one of the crocks. As you shred, sprinkle salt every so many inches of shredded cabbage you put into the crock. Make sure to use NON-IODIZED SALT. Remember that because if you use Iodized, the entire crock will blow up in your face and cause blindness to your whole family or anyone in the near vicinity … NOT really…. Just use non-iodized salt. I forget why, so just do it, okay? It’s important.
As you shred and sprinkle the cabbage with salt, you’ll want to use a big mallet type thingy (we used a big redwood fence post).
Stomp the shredded cabbage every time until it gets a little watery. It should look like this.
….And your mallet should look like this.
Make sure to smile like me as you’re doing this because if you don’t, the kraut will taste bitter, and you don’t want that. If you shred with that look on your face like my husband has in this photo, you will have to smile extra to counteract his “unsmiling.” So you got that? Okay, good.
With the bits left over that don’t shred easily (and, yes, you will have these bits), simply have someone slicing those up, too. you don’t want to waste your beautiful cabbage now, do you? Slice the extra bits very thinly.
When you are done, the cabbage will look something like this.
As you can see, on the last little crock, you put a plate to weight the sauerkraut down, and place a stone on top to put pressure on the whole thing.
Then cover with a towel, or if your crock has a lid, all the better. Then let the crock sit in a cool dry place (like your garage) for a couple of months. Taste the sauerkraut every so often for flavor. You will know when it is ready by taste.
If you don’t know what sauerkraut should taste like, go grab a German somewhere and have them taste it for you. You can pay them with a little kraut when it’s done. Trust me, a German will know the value of this….well….any German worth his salt….no pun intended.
When all is said and done and your kraut is tasting just right…you want to put it into separate freezer bags and freeze it. It works great that way! We just pull out a dinners portion when we need it.
4 Heads of gigantic cabbage
Crock (preferably with lid)
Plate to put on top
Rock to weight the plate
Large mallet type thingy for stomping
1 to 4 Germans! Optional (but it will taste better if you have bonafide Germans in the mix) I swear!