Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom & Dad Make Sauerkraut

The fall is one of my very favourite times of the year for many reasons.........................and one of those reasons is Sauerkraut. Mom and dad were busy making a big batch which they will freeze up in margarine containers or freezer bags to put up Sauerkraut for the year to come. Home made Sauerkraut has to be one of the very easiest things to make so it should not intimidate you at all. And if you like Sauerkraut................home made is miles and miles better that anything you'll find in the grocery store. I'm looking very forward to a few bags of Mom and Dad's best.......making it out this way on Dad's visit next month. There always seems to be food in dad's suitcase on every visit. It must be a mom thing:)
Very few simple ingredients make it nice and easy and of course it's nice to have someone to help and make it. Having a proper slicer makes the work a little quicker.....but it isn't absolutely necessary.
Once the cabbage and onion are grated, it's a simple process to layer them up the crock with some salt and seasonings. Give it a little pressing and continue on.
Once you've finished you'll need a small plate and a heavy weight to keep it all submerged. Then it needs to rest and work its magic. See....easy as Sauerkraut........which is much much easier than pie:) If you'd like to give it a try you can try the recipe below which was graciously provided by mom and dad. Once this is done, it makes a fabulously easy meal baked in the oven with pork chops or sausages buried in Sauerkraut.....Yum! Thanks for the recipe MOM!

Mom's Sauerkraut

1 4 gallon crock, rinsed carefully in warm water and dried, must be clear of any soap residue
1 sturdy glass pint or preserving jar for pressing kraut
10 lbs mature, firm cabbage (winter or summer) fine shred (about 8 med solid heads)
8 medium size cooking onions, fine slice
1/2 cup coarse pickling salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice in cheese cloth pouch, prep, set aside
2 tablespoons whole allspice in cheese cloth pouch, prep, set aside
3 whole bay leaves, interspersed through crock


Choose mature, firm heads of cabbage. Remove two/three outer layer of leaves down to a clean cabbage head. Quarter cabbages and cut out core. Shred cabbage finely on a large old style grater (see photo) or put through processor if you have the kitchenaid (fine) shredding disc. This disc is a separate purchase and does not come with the appliance. You will be shredding cabbage intermittently as you layer it in the crock.
Fine slice the onions, set aside on a tray.

Begin by putting down a 3 inch layer of shredded cabbage. Place both pouches of pickling spice and whole allspice on top. Sprinkle sliced onion, add a three inch layer of cabbage, sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over top, then apply pressure and twist the bottom of your jar on the cabbage to create moisture (see photo) you will see the cabbage is moist on the surface.

Repeat this process with sliced onion, another 3 inch layer shredded cabbage, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and then firm pressure on the cabbage, push and twist the bottom of the jar. You may have about 7 to 8 layers which should end at about 4 inches from the top of the crock. (be careful with the salt as it has to last through all layers. Lay the bay leaves randomly at different levels as you fill the crock.

When crock has been filled, invert a heavy plate over the cabbage and fill and cap a gallon glass jar with water to be placed over the plate. Cover with a clean tea towel over top. The water jar will hold the cabbage down and allow the fermentation process to release water up and over the cabbage. For safety, place the crock into a large tray to catch any spill (which is not too likely). The water may climb close to 1 inch from the top but at this point will begin to recede down slowly until you do not see liquid from the top at all. The crock should be kept in a room at about 60 degrees F. or even a few degrees lower. At a higher temperature the sauerkraut will ferment sooner, but the quality will be inferior.

During the fermentation process, residue will form on the surface for the first week. It should be removed with a clean spoon every other day as needed. Gradually there will be less and less residue. The cabbage will require 2 to 4 weeks for fermentation depending on room temp. When fermentation has ceased (approx 3 weeks) you will notice that the liquid has descended down below the cabbage. This sauerkraut can now be consumed. Even though it is very fresh, it makes a nice side salad with a few drops of oil and a splash of vinegar.
To store simply fill a plastic container (e.g. clean margarine container) fit securely with lid, label the year and keep in the freezer. Stored this way, they have have kept very well for four years without any appearance of freezer burn.

Hint: when using one container from this batch, place it in the saucepan, cover kraut with water and bring to a boil. Drain off this water which will remove any excess salt and it is ready for preparing a meal.

As sauerkraut is so complementing to pork, you can brown up a few fresh pork chops or some smoked spareribs, lay the meat singly over oblong bake ware, spread the sauerkraut over the top of the meat, sprinkle two/three tablespoon water over, cover with foil. Bake 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. till fork tender. This is delicious comfort food along with some crusty fresh bread. I can almost taste it as this was a family favourite as a child growing up.

Also forgot to mention that a tried and true tradition in the Ukraine is to put about 7 whole apples randomly through out the layering. I wish I had remembered in time. Maybe I can sneak a couple carefully in. The apples pick up amazing flavour and are used as a side with the sauerkraut meal. I neglected to do this. I remembered as an after thought.


Lisa said...

apples in kraut...never heard of it. I love some sourkraut though. Looks great!

LittleRed said...

I had not heard of it either, but when my parents were visiting the Ukraine several years ago....they said it was quite common.