or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Making sauerkraut

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have been thinking about making sauerkraut, but I don't have the proper equipment and I don't have access to it either.

So, here is my plan:

 

Get some cabbage, take of the outer leaves and remove the core

Weigh it and calculate 2% salt

Cut the cabbage and put into a plastic bucket with the salt and pound the living daylight out of it

Find a plate that just fits inside the bucket to hold the cabbage down.

Weigh it down with a big plastic bag filled with 2% brine

Make a hole in the lid, just big enough for a piece of hose pipe, stick the hose pipe through it and silicone around it to close off the hole completely

Close the lid and let the end of the hose pipe sit in a jar of water so carbon dioxide can get out, but oxygen can't get in.

 

Would this work?

 

My idea is to do a trial run with just one cabbage

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #2 of 28

You're method is unnecessarily complicated. All sauerkraut is, is cabbage and salt, allowed to ferment.

 

"Cut the cabbage and put into a plastic bucket with the salt and pound the living daylight out of it"

 

I've never heard of that....All you really need do is mix the sliced cabbage with the salt, place it in your bucket and place a clean wet cloth on top. Every day, remove the cloth, rinse it, squeeze it out and replace on the cabbage surface again.

 

"Weigh it down with a big plastic bag filled with 2% brine

Make a hole in the lid, just big enough for a piece of hose pipe, stick the hose pipe through it and silicone around it to close off the hole completely

Close the lid and let the end of the hose pipe sit in a jar of water so carbon dioxide can get out, but oxygen can't get in."

 

WHY????   The plate alone is enough weight and YOU WANT oxygen to get in, cause with out it, the cabbage won't ferment. You don't want a lid on this thing either, as you want the cabbage exposed to wild yeasts in the air......This is how it ferments.

 

You need to read up some more about making this. You have everything you'd need to make it. Just don't use a non-reactive container.

 

 

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Traditionally sauerkraut is made in stone (ceramic) pots with a water lock

(see example here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fermentation-Sauerkraut-Pot-5L-Germany/dp/B004QH8MIA/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1371910851&sr=1-1&keywords=sauerkraut)

 

As far as I know, the cabbage is pounded to release the juices and to make sure that the cabbage is under water, away from the oxygen in the air to avoid spoilage. Generally it is weighed down with stones for the same reason.

 

OK, beating the living daylights out of it is putting it quite a bit too strong, but it is pounded anyway.

 

I don't know if American sauerkraut is exactly the same thing, but in Europe it is eaten after an about 6 weeks fermentation period, initially at room temperature, later on at a cooler place.

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #4 of 28

rolleyes.gif

 

You want the cabbage to be fully submerged in the brine at all times.  You want to allow the fermentation gasses to escape.  That's the bare bones of it.  Things like the special water lock ceramic jugs are nice, but not at all necessary. 

 

You want to check the kraut occasionally to keep the mold off the top of the water.

 

Ceramic and glass are good because they're relatively inexpensive, easy to clean, and non-reactive.  They don't get wrecked like plastic, and they're cheaper than stainless.  I don't know, but I'll bet you the commercial outfits use stainless. 

 

You don't have to pound the cabbage if you slice it thin enough.  It will wilt to a state of complete surrender given long enough in the brine.

 

I've made sauerkraut a few times, did a good job, because it's easy, nothing to it.  BUT it's really not worth the trouble.  A good commercial brand is as good as anything you can make yourself -- because it's made exactly the same way.  Water, salt, juniper berries, caraway, and waiting.  What's the big deal?

 

The trick with sauerkraut is what you do after its cured to turn it into choucroute garnie or wherever the heck you're taking it.  Rinsing it after removing it from the brine has go to be one of the simplest tasks in cookery, but so few people do it.  Shame really.

 

I like to rinse it, squeeze it out pretty thoroughly, saute it with either aromatics or fruit -- preferably in some sort of pork fat -- and dress it with a splash of some sort of high quality vinegar at the end. 

 

BDL

post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

rolleyes.gif...

I've made sauerkraut a few times, did a good job, because it's easy, nothing to it.  BUT it's really not worth the trouble.  A good commercial brand is as good as anything you can make yourself -- because it's made exactly the same way.  Water, salt, juniper berries, caraway, and waiting.  What's the big deal?

 

The trick with sauerkraut is what you do after its cured to turn it into choucroute garnie or wherever the heck you're taking it.  Rinsing it after removing it from the brine has go to be one of the simplest tasks in cookery, but so few people do it.  Shame really.

 

I like to rinse it, squeeze it out pretty thoroughly, saute it with either aromatics or fruit -- preferably in some sort of pork fat -- and dress it with a splash of some sort of high quality vinegar at the end. 

 

BDL

 

Agreed.

 

@Butzy:        FWIW the SausageMaker offers some pretty decent (perhaps unnecessary) equipment for making sauerkraut.  Checkout their website.

 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #6 of 28
post #7 of 28

I buy a good brand of fresh kraut (not canned) and start from there.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #8 of 28

I'm not certain that Butzy has a market carrying sauerkraut nearby.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #9 of 28

Making your own sauerkraut is easy, a lot easier than what some here are making out.  I have use everything from a crock, the old fashioned tried and true method, to a (food safe) plastic bucket.  If you are going to make kraut in a plastic bucket, Please, please make sure you use a food safe bucket.

To make sauerkraut, use the freshest cabbage you can find.  The absolute best would be cabbage you just picked, bought from a farmers market, or just got in from a purveyor.  You just don't want to use old dry cabbage.  Anyway, use the freshest cabbage you can, cut the head in half, remove the core and loose outer leaves.  Shred the cabbage into thin strips using a knife or a mandolin.  Layer the cabbage into the bucket or crock and sprinkle with salt (the ratio is 5 lbs of cabbage to 3 tablespoons kosher or canning/pickling salt) then pound the shredded cabbage with a wooden spoon or a wooden tamper.  The pounding is a very important step, it helps the salt to draw the needed moisture out of the cabbage to make the brine to ferment the cabbage.  Continue to layer cabbage then salt and pound, cabbage, salt, pound until all the cabbage is used up.  Now place a plate on top of the cabbage to weigh down the cabbage and force it below the brine.  I use a bag of salt water on top of this to help weigh the plate down, and have even forgone the plate and just used the bag of salt water, the ratio for the salt water is 1 Tablespoon salt to one cup of water.  Too much salt will slow down the fermenting process as will too cool of a place to ferment the kraut.  I use this brine/salt water in the bag because if the bag ruptures, it is the proper mix for the brine in the sauerkraut any way, as a matter of fact, if the liquid doesn't rise above the plate, this brine can be use.  Don't put a lid on the bucket that seals it if off from the surrounding air, it needs the wild microbes from the air. Instead use a very loose fitting lid or boil a rag in water, cool it and place it over the top of your crock/bucket.

Let this mixture sit in a warm place for 2-3 weeks checking daily.  It will begin to have bubbles rise in the mixture, this is what is wanted, it is the fermentation process at work.  If a white scum forms, skim this off, wash the plate and replace the cloth with a newly boiled one.  If there is no scum, leave it alone.  When the bubbles stop rising, the sauerkraut is done and ready to eat.  At this point I would move it to the walk-in and keep it at the proper cold temperature for long term storage.  I was making a new batch every week at the last restaurant I worked at in Colorado, and we were only using it for Brats and hot dogs so it was moving quite well (they were done in two gallon buckets per batch, filled to within two inches of the top).

Many health conscious people seek out sauerkraut juice to drink because of the helpful bacteria that the mixture contains, so there is absolutely no need to rinse the sauerkraut before you use it.  It can be used raw, you can heat it up before putting it on a sandwich, or you can add other flavors and cook it at this point.  I had many coming to eat the brats/dogs just because it was homemade sauerkraut.  It just tastes better.  Some commercially made sauerkraut these days are made with vinegar to get around the fermentation process, this is NOT real sauerkraut, and it will tell you in the ingredient area of the label.

I always tried to do as much as I could from scratch because I take great pride in the product I put out.  It adds to the work load, but if I was in this for the money, I wouldn't be in it at all.

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the tips!

Pete is right on target, I cannot get sauerkraut, otherwise I would just buy it and never go to all the effort BUT I developed a craving for it and I need to satisfy the monster smile.gif

I can get cabbages from the farmers market, so I will start experimenting sometime soon.

I'll keep you updated with method and results.

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #11 of 28

BDL, sorry but I have to disagree, making sauerkraut is well worth the effort even if you can find a good brand at your local store.  Living in Wisconsin for the past 11 years I have made and tasted many people's homemade sauerkraut and it all beats the best store bought hands down.  Not only is it fresher tasting, but you can continue to taste it as it matures catching it at just the right flavor balance for you.  Even after being refrigerated it still continues to mature and change, although much more slowly.  It's fun to taste its progression.  Something you can't do with the store bought stuff, even the "fresh" stuff sold at stores.

 

Next as to your recipe, my usual ratio is 2 1/2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt per 5 pounds of cabbage (weighed after peeling off the outer leaves and removing the core).  And yes, I do pound the crap out of my sauerkraut.  While the cabbage, on its own will eventually wilt down and cover itself in brine, not sure how long that would take and each moment exposed to air gives molds and other nasties a chance to take hold.  I have often made kraut in 5 gallon plastic food pails and sealed the kraut under the brine with a garbage bag filled with brine (just in case it leaks).  I then cover the whole thing with a towel and move it to an out of the way place.  I check it every few days, removing the bag, rinsing it off and skimming off any white mold that may have formed on the surface of the brine on around the edges, on the plastic.  Depending on your fermenting temperatures and how tangy you like it your kraut can be done in as little as 3 weeks.  Best bet is to try and keep your kraut at about 65-75°F during fermentation.  Much above that you increase the risk of spoilage and below that the process will be greatly prolonged.  At that temperature my batches are usually ready to chilled in 3-5 weeks.

post #12 of 28

I love kraut! A number of years ago a friend and I were hauling our cars from Salt Lake to an event in Illinois.  We stopped for lunch in the Amana colonies in Iowa.  The restaurant where we ate served lunch family style.  They brought out 5 bowls of cold salad to start, 3 of which contained kraut.  Then with the hot, house made sausages came out 3 hot sauerkraut dishes and some other veggies.  It was heavenly!  Went very well with the beer they brewed.  A nice lunch.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #13 of 28

I make about 20 quarts every Fall. Butzy there's nothing wrong with your method although I would rather use crocks.

The reason many pound the kraut after it's cut is to get the water to start to come out of the cabbadge and speed up the process. That's a very traditional method although as mentioned up-thread if you slice your cabbage thin enough you can skip that step. The temps may be the biggest challenge where you live. 70 F is about ideal. The next biggest challenge is getting a plate the right diameter for your crock or container. I use an old wide flat tupperware container and put a #10 can inside. It presses down just enough to keep every thing submerged and not allow any liquid in the tupperware. Don't forget a towel or cheesecloth over the top of your crock. 

Who ever said use the freshest cabbage possible is spot on. I try to start Kraut right when the first cabbages of the season are being harvested. They usually contain more water.

Kraut also cans well. 

The only store brand I've ever found that compares to home made is about $7 a quart. Fresh runs me about $1 a quart.

 

Dave


Edited by DuckFat - 6/24/13 at 8:19am
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
post #14 of 28

Great post! I love kraut and this recipe looks so simple!  Hats off to you!  thumb.gif
 

post #15 of 28

Isn't there a rather distinctive odor involved with making kraut?

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #16 of 28

If you make Kraut in the house it can get odoriferous after several weeks. Using a heavy towel over the top of the crock does help keep that at bay. Once I reach that point my kraut is usually pretty close to being finished.  

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 

OK, I started my experiment.

It took me quite a while to find a food-grade bucket. It's quite a big one, so I decided to use 2 small cabbages. They looked pretty fresh.

I quartered them, cored them and weighed them and calculated 2% salt.

I cut them fairly fine with a knife as I have no mandoline.

 

Threw some cabbage in my bucket, then some salt, some cabbage, some salt etc till all was finished.

I then pounded the cabbage with a wooden stick till it wilted somewhat.

 

There was not enough water to submerge it so I added 500 ml (with 2% salt).

I covered it with a plate and put a foodsafe bag on top which I filled with water

 

And here the trouble started:

The bag was not waterproof!

Luckily I measured the water I put in, it was 1.5 litre and I added salt to get to the right percentage.

The cabbage is now definitely submerged.

Maybe it would have been better to remove some of the liquid, but that would have meant removing some of the cabbage liquid as well, so I decided against it.

I now put 2 dustbin bags inside eachother and filled those with brine and to be on the safe side, I put these 2 inside my foodsafe bag and on top of the cabbage and plate.

 

I covered the bucket with a tea towel and put the lid on very loosely (to prevent the tea towel from blowing away)

Now the waiting begins.....

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #18 of 28

Good luck, hope it turns out well.  I may be doing a batch myself someday soon.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by kokopuffs View Post

 

Agreed.

 

@Butzy:        FWIW the SausageMaker offers some pretty decent (perhaps unnecessary) equipment for making sauerkraut.  Checkout their website.

 

The reason to make your own rather than buy it is that sauerkraut is a lacto ferment, which, when done at home, is full of probiotics and b vitamins.  When done in a factory it is full of salt and that's about it.

post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Time for a quick update.
3-4 days after starting there was a slight cabbage smell noticable in the bucket
The next day I thought I noticed a slight acidic smell, but maybe that was wistfull smelling
Yesterday I tasted some and is definitely is getting a bit acidic. I hope that is a good sign.
So far I have noticed no scum, also no fermentation bubbles or anything.
I'll just keep waiting and checking.
How do I know it is ready? Do I just let it be for 3 to 4 weeks and assume it is now sauerkraut? OK, obviously, I will keep tasting, but still, are there any specific signs to indicate it is done?

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 

OK, so my sauerkraut has been ready for some time now. I forgot to post an update to this thread.

The last couple of days, some scum formed on the surface, but since it stuck to the plastic bag, it was easy to remove.

 

I have eaten some of it as well. I made a bit of a mistake there. The sauerkraut was quite acidic, so I decided to rinse it in water and boil in clean water. It turned out a bit bland, esp since I ate it the traditional Dutch way: mashed with potatoes.

So, no rinsing next time!

Sorry, no pictures of the meal

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #22 of 28
Quote:
How do I know it is ready? Do I just let it be for 3 to 4 weeks and assume it is now sauerkraut? OK, obviously, I will keep tasting, but still, are there any specific signs to indicate it is done?

 

I usually start checking mine after 3 1/2-4 weeks.  Sauerkraut is done when you are happy with the flavor, in my opinion.  Sometimes I refrigerate it after just 3-4 weeks, sometimes not for 7 weeks or more.  It all depends on my mood.  Shorter fermentation times will yield a product with a fresher, sweeter taste, while sauerkraut that has fermented longer will get more sour and will gradually lose all sense of freshness (not necessarily a bad thing in this case as long as it doesn't spoil and develop "off" flavors).  If you are planning on canning any though you want to let it go for a longer period as opposed to a shorter period to ensure that you have a ph low enough to inhibit botulism growth.  While it would probably be smart to actually test the ph, if canning, I never do, but I usually allow the sauerkraut to go a full 7 weeks.

post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pete, Mine did come out pretty OK. I am not going to can it, but have thrown some in the freezer. Next attempt will be next year when the temperatures are cooling down (it was 38 oC here today (100 F)

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #24 of 28

Well, best of luck with your next ventures.  BTW, if you think you really want to get into fermenting foods I would highly suggest investing in a fermentation crock.  It is not needed, but it makes things so much easier.  I just recently reviewed the Harsch Gairtopf fermentation crock for ChefTalk.  You can find the review here.  Check it out and see if it's something you might be interested in.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/products/harsch-gairtopf-fermenting-crock-pot-10-liter-me7420/reviews/4219

post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 

I would love to have one, but there is as always a problem with availability at my part of the world (and shipping here is incredibly expensive).

I have been looking at a small crockpot, just a 2 ltr one as I might be able to get someone to carry it in for me (but is still 4.5 kg, so pretty heavy considering the 23 kg luggage allowance for planes).

In the mean time I will muddle on with buckets, water locks etc.

At least it forces you to be inventive thumb.gif

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
post #26 of 28

I feel your pain.  Luckily it can be done without the convenience of fermentation crocks, as many people will testify to.  These are just gadgets that make things easier, but by all means continue on as you are.  I did it that way for years with plenty of success.

post #27 of 28

A wine making 5 gallon plastic pail would work too, the airlock will let gasses out and keep the layer of co2 in, couple stoneware plates can be used for the weight. I used a setup like this for years.

post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 

That was my original idea, but I couldn't find my airlock anywhere.

I am sure it is somewhere, but it can by anywhere smile.gif

 

I thought of constructing one with a piece of hosepipe, but in the end I went the easy route.

I may still sacrifise the lid of my bucket (I got 2 buckets and lids anyway( and make a water lock by making a whole in the bucket, the size of a big cork and then jamming a piece of hose pipe through the cork. One end inside the bucket, the other end in a small jar of water.

I got a couple of months to think about it, or has anyone managed to make sauerkraut succesfully at high temperatures (and no climate control)?

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking