John Might Have A Point…

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!

About Lorette

My name is Lorette. I learned to knit in 1999, and took up spinning in 2009. I'm a physician specializing in internal medicine, and live in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy my blog!


John Might Have A Point… — 21 Comments

  1. I’m so envious. This sounds so yummy!!!! Dana hates all things cabbage, especially sauerkraut. This, of course, makes my Irish head spin on St. Paddy’s day when all I want out of life is a little corned beef and cabbage. Keep tryin’ to tell the boy that cabbage is cheap eats but he thinks he’d rather starve.

  2. Oh, this post takes me back to when my kids were small and we made sauerkraut every fall. The neighbors and I got together, bought lots of cabbage and used their slicer-grater board. And like you, we’d mix up 5 lb of cabbage with the salt–and then we smashed it into quart jars and put the lids on loosely. After a couple of weeks we screwed the lids on tight. Wow it tasted so good. Even the kids, who don’t normally like sauerkraut, liked the homemade kind.

    So the oldest of the kids is now 37–as you can tell, this has been a while ago. Maybe I’ll need to make a little batch next fall. It sounds so good….

  3. I’m not a great fan of the commercial stuff, but I like homemade very well. But maybe not quite well enough to actually make it. My daughter does, and makes it annually.
    The rock is adorable peeking up from the brine.

  4. You left out a critical point on sauerkraut-making. Menstruating women should NOT be allowed to help with the process AT ALL, or the entire batch will be ruined. My right hand on this.

  5. There’s a blast from the past. I remember my mom and her friends getting together and making a big crock of sauerkraut and them sharing it all. You’re right, sauerkraut like this is not like the canned stuff we buy..

  6. I love Sauerkraut and so does my hubby. This sounds so good. I’m going to have to try this one.

  7. Is that Red Wing, MN pottery?

    Cool site- when I do my first (of many, to be sure) crafting blog-months, I’ll have to link over here!


  8. I love cabbage but hate sauerkraut (hearing a story from someone who worked in a factory where they made it when he was in college didn’t help) but my partner & one of my daughters love it. Still that is a lot of kraut. That crock looks just like the one my aunt used to make dill pickles when I was a kid.

  9. Wonder if the crockery is related to the shoe company. Or maybe they are just both located in the same town (I know the shoe company, also very old, is located in Red Wing MN, a stop on the Amtrak Empire Builder line.)

  10. Love the garden rock. Never knew till I was far into adulthood that real sauerkraut is good. I’d always had it from a can which is dreadful.

  11. Thanks for the sauerkraut idea. Emptied the bicycling gear from the #10 Red Wing crock and filled it with 6lbs of Stonehead cabbage.

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