I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving! We had a house full of “happy” on turkey day, with 14 family members and friends around the table (actually 2 tables!). We ended up roasting a 20-pound turkey, along with a biggish ham. Fortunately everybody took plastic bags and boxes of leftovers home so I don’t have to eat turkey for the rest of the winter. The stock is already made from the carcass. I was going to make a big pot of bean soup today with the ham bone, but got way sidetracked, so we’re having something much quicker to cook for supper tonight.
Here’s one of the things I did manage to get done today. Sauerkraut!
I haven’t made this in years. When we lived in Montana, I made it every fall. The last time I made it, we lived in Texas, and it never got cold enough to keep the whole crock from turning into a slimy rotten mess. Then my antique Red Wing crock cracked, and it just never got done again. I happened to discover earlier this fall that Red Wing still sells these things, and sooner than you could say “crackpot”, a new one was on the way to my house. Here’s photographic evidence of the work of the afternoon.
Organic cabbage, from our local CSA farmer. She had a farm sale last week with all the late fall stuff leftover from the season, and John came home with two big bags of cabbage. Yes, the “4” on the crock means that it’s a 4-gallon crock.
Shredding pretty much done. This was about 4-5 cabbages, I lost count. I have two cabbages leftover, but this will have to settle first.
The rock from our garden that will weigh down the plate.
So here are the short instructions. This is actually about as easy as it gets to make. Get your cabbage, take off any yucky leaves off the outside. You don’t even need to wash them. Quarter the cabbages and core them, then slice thinly. Layer it in the crock with kosher salt, stopping to mix it around now and then. The rough estimate is about 3 tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of cabbage, but you rinse the stuff before you eat it, so it’s not as much as it sounds. When you get the crock close to full, put a plate on top that fits fairly closely, then a cool rock to weigh it down. Cover it with a dishtowel, and Bob’s your uncle. You should stir this up every couple hours until it makes some juice, and you want the salty brine to cover the cabbage by an inch or so. The cabbage will compact down as it settles, so you can add more cabbage in a day or so if you have more. If it doesn’t make enough brine, you can make a brine solution and add it. Once it’s made a little brine, set it someplace cool until it turns into sauerkraut, maybe 4-6 weeks, but I can never wait that long to eat some. It’s like eating half-pickled dills, I never can wait for those either. You probably want it someplace between 50-60 degrees for the wait, so it doesn’t spoil.
John’s point? He asked what the hell we are going to do with 4 gallons of sauerkraut once it’s done. Oh, he of little faith. I come from good Polish-German peasant stock, so this shouldn’t be a problem. This stuff is so much better than store-bought that you wouldn’t believe it. If you’re not as big a fan, Red Wing sells much smaller crocks!