Saur Sunday

I harvested about 2/3 of the cabbages last week in anticipation of this brutal heat wave. They had filled out their bed with spreading, luxurious leaves, and I had high hopes of cabbage enough to last us until Spring. I was so disappointed that when I took them in and undressed them, most of the heads were fairly small. A couple were only as big as my fist.

They are absolutely delicious though; melt-in-your-mouth tender and more delicate than any cabbage I’ve ever eaten. So while they may be small, they are still worth having grown.

Even so, 15 pounds is a lot of cabbage. Cabbage soup and sauteed cabbage aside, what else to do with such a surplus?

Kraut of course! How people have been preserving cabbage for centuries. It’s delicious, tangy, and so easy to make. When I considered that I’ve been trying to include more probiotics in my diet (at least one kind a day), it was a no-brainer. I found several recipes online; they all seem about the same but this one was the simplest. So yesterday when I found I had some time on my hands, I jumped right in.

Once I put 2 pounds through the food processor, I had a bit less than a gallon of shredded cabbage.

I tossed it with a tablespoon of kosher salt and packed two-thirds of it into one jar; the other third I mixed with about a cup of homegrown thin-sliced onions and it went into another jar. I’ve never had saurkraut pickled with onions, but it ought to be good – because what goes better with than cabbages than onions?

I thought I’d have more kraut than I’d know what to do with, but after a few hours the darn stuff compacted down so far that now I’m tempted to consolidate the two jars into a single half-gallon.

It was supposed to release enough liquid to cover itself within an hour; but 6 hours later there was barely any. I had to pour in weak salt solution to fill it up – I hope it’s not too terribly salty. Since I don’t have split-stone weights on hand (note to self: make some at the ceramics studio), I covered the top of the cabbage inside each jar with plastic ziplock baggies filled with water. These will keep the cabbage submerged in the brine so it doesn’t develop off-flavors.

By yesterday evening the cabbage was already smelling… uh… fragrant. Very krauty! It’s a waiting game now; I’ll start taste-testing in about 7 days and once it tastes right it will go into the fridge.

With the kraut started, a delicious bowl of coleslaw made and a panful of sauteed cabbage prepared and eaten, we’re already down to only 3 normal-sized heads left in storage and about 5 smallish ones still left in the garden (unless the heat kills them). So while we won’t have enough cabbage to share with the neighbors after all, we will at least have enough for at least a few more dishes and – if it turns out well – another batch of kraut.

3 Responses to “Saur Sunday”

  1. eggyknap Says:

    we’ve made kraut the same way several times, and it’s delicious. The only thing is, I’d let it stew longer. We’ll let ours sit on the counter bubbling for a week or two (keep something underneath to catch any brine that leaks out, like a plate) and then leave it in the basement (where it’s supposed to be cooler than upstairs — and sometimes is — but isn’t anywhere near refrigerator temperatures) for a month or more. It will keep for months this way. As to whether it’s too salty or not, that’s a matter of experimentation, mostly; I think we’ve settled on about a tablespoon of salt per quart of shredded cabbage. We’ve almost always had to add extra water to ours, and it’s always especially fragrant at first, when the fermentation is going most strongly.

  2. Darcy Says:

    My daughter loves kraut (being a kraut, that makes me happy! :smile:) It’s a great way for kids to get nutrients! Maybe I should have planted some cabbage, now that I think about it!

  3. diana Says:

    Oh Darcy I bet cabbage would do great in your area! It loves regular water though.

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