Sauerkraut

Yield:
12 cups
Level:
Intermediate
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds green cabbage, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 quart water, in a sanitized glass jar
Directions

In large mixing bowl, mix cabbage thoroughly with salt, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, using hands or tongs. If using your hands, make sure that they are very clean prior to mixing. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Pack cabbage mixture down into a large plastic food container. Top with a lid smaller than the opening of the container and place a glass jar filled with the quart of water on top of the lid. Place in cool area overnight (65 to 70 degrees F). In a day, the cabbage should have given up enough liquid to be completely submerged. The jar serves as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged and away from air.

Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary. Let stand for 4 weeks. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 4 weeks


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    no vinegar, no black pepper, no thanks.
    How is vinegar made? Yup... Thanks for your expert comment...
    I made this recipe again tonight, for maybe the eighth time. Have never been disappointed! After cutting the cabbage, let it rest for an hour or 2 with the salt and spices in a very large container. Then we use four identical 4.5 qt. tall and slightly tapered Tupperware containers. Five heads of cabbage (about 10 Lbs fit into 2 of the Tupperware containers, then fill the other 2 containers with water, put the lids on and set them on top of the cabbage. Being tapered it seals nicely into the container below. And we have never had to skim anything off the top. The container and its own juices seal the cabbage wonderfully. Then set them each in something like a gallon ice cream bucket, because the fluid will overflow. Then put those in a reasonably cool place and be patient. Yummm! I have made it with and without caraway seeds and juniper berries. Either and all ways it is delicious! I have always used pickling salt and it has worked great every time. Thanks again Alton!
    YUM! I did cut the proportions down since I'm only one person and have a teeny tiny kitchen. My first batch came out okay, just too salty, so for the second try I used about 2 pounds of cabbage and 4 teaspoons of sea salt (and the caraway, and after cutting up the cabbage and salting it, I squeezed it with my hands until a lot of juice came out of the cabbage. The whole batch fit into a wide-mouth quart mason jar and I put a baggie with some salted distilled water on top to keep the cabbage submerged, closed up the jar with a plastic mason jar lid, and set the jar in a bowl on top of my fridge. After two days, liquid was oozing out from under the lid (found out this is from the lactic acid bacteria that sours the cabbage and is apparently super healthy for your digestive system. I would 'burp' the jar daily and then close it up again. After eight days I tasted it and WOW was it good! I will never buy sauerkraut at the supermarket again.
    I have Alton cook book(Good eats 2 the middle years and used the recipe. It says to fill a plastic bag with water and 1 1/2 t. PICKLING salt this is important ladies you cannot use just any old Salt. Anyway old recipes call for a piece of muslin so I used a cotton square on top of the cabbage and the plastic bag which sealed it completely and when I was ready to process it there was no undesirable layer to be removed it used it all! The results were perfect. My daughter did the same but used a layer of good old plastic wrap then the bag. Same results. I put the kraut up in pint jars with water bath method 20 min. processing time.
    This recipe is very good. Some of the reviewers said they used trash bags with water to weigh down the cabbage. The plastic bags need to be food grade which trash bags are not. Also instead of plain water a brine solution would be better in case of leaks the cabbage will not be diluted.
    I used this recipe in a 15 Qt crock. I did allow the fermentation to go longer than 4 weeks and kept tasting it until it was the kraut sourness I was looking for. I did can it up in pint and quart jars following a cold pack, hot bath method so i could easily ship as Christmas gifts.  
    The most difficult part of this recipe is the prep of the cabbage. The rest was very easy and I look forward to cabbage season to arrive again so we can make more. My list of friends and family waiting on more gifts has grown, perhaps 30 Qts next time.  
    Enjoy!
    Using this exact recipe I made a 10 pound batch a few months ago using a large plastic food container from Walmart. Tasted great. The container had a tight lid on it. I shaped a piece of a poly cutting board to slip down inside to push the cabbage down and keep it submerged. Used a heavy weight, not a messy bag of water . If you mash it and weigh it down, the entire thing will be submerged in it's own water within 2 hours if you use fresh, heavy cabbage.  
     
    Made another batch, 25 pounds this time, 10 in the same plastic container, 15 in a proper crock. I see, and taste, no difference in either. Don't know why someone would say a crock is "much better" except it just feels good to have a proper crock.  
     
    I don't think it needs to be rinsed, heated and sealed to kill bacteria. Rinsing it seems to me to be rinsing some of the flavor away unnecessarily. Guess it wouldn't hurt but I am not sure what bacteria are in there, at the end of the process, that needs killing! 
    You can use a plastic bucket, but a crock works much better even if it is an old-fashioned bean pot. Make sure that it is covered very well and weighted down. It does take a while depending on how much cabbage you are using. When you remove it, it needs to be rinsed and then packed into a jar or jars and should then be heated to seal the jars and kill the bacteria. Be careful, because refridgeration doesn't kill the bacteria nor does the heating in a skillet because it is not at a high enough temperature
    Homemade sauerkraut is the best! I left out the juniper berries, cause frankly I dont like them. had trouble getting enough liquid out of my cabbage so i added a weak salt brine solution to the cabbage and it worked perfectly to cover it with some room to spare. I should have let it ferment a little longer to increase the sourness, but i was so excited after 3 weeks, i couldnt wait to jar it up and share with friends. Delicious none the less
    Wow it really worked! I was a little hesitant about this recipe. I thought I'd be throwing it out, I was for sure it would just be a rotted mess. I used a big white bucket and like other reviewers, made sure I really packed it down and used a trash bag filled with water- that really is the trick, you don't want any air to get in it. I let it sit for 4 weeks in the basement, it was probably between 50-60 degrees. For the first few days I would peak at it to see if it was making the scum- but there was nothing-probably needed longer since it was cooler than the recipe. Then I just left it alone and forgot about it. I threw out the top layer- didn't smell too good- but underneath, yummy kraut!
    just put a batch of cabbage on using this recipe. hope it comes out as good as everyone says. a friend of mine from slovakia said that if you use a big crock submerge whole heads of cabbage that have been cored and do it whole along with the shredded cabbage. they make the best cabbage rolls. i tried it and its wonderful!!! thanks alton for the recipe
    My grandfather used to make sauerkraut ever since I can remember and we have continued the tradition with one change: He used to use a big wooden disc with weights to press down on the top of the crock. However, the 'souring' of the cabbage relies on an anaerobic process (you want to keep the air out!) so we now use tripled-up trash bags filled with water to the top of the crock, directly on top of the cabbage, which is effective in sealing against the sides of the crock.
     
     So, to apply the same to Alton's recipe, during the fermenting step when instructed to put something on top to press down, use a water-tight plastic bag to seal the sides and prevent air from contacting the kraut. I'd recommend doubling, or tripling the bag to ensure excess water doesn't leak into the kraut. Of course, it would also help to place a weight on top of the bags filled with water to help press them against the sides.
     
     When we make it we use a ~30 gallon crock, start after harvesting the cabbage in the fall, and sometimes leave it to ferment until Thanksgiving or Christmas. It really depends on your ambient temperature (we live in NE Ohio) and the degree of 'sourness' you desire, so remove a side of the bag and check it periodically until you're happy. Often, we'll can it at various stages of sourness.
     
     In any case, you should not have to remove any scum, just the top layer of kraut after fermentation. The waste is much less with this approach.
     
     Happy krauting!
    It took me 3 tries, with the last one actually using a pickeling crock instead of a plastic container as in the episode (got lucky and found a 4 Gallon one on craig's list for $40). Also, I think that Alton was "too nice" to the cabbage on the show, I really needed to punch down hard on the cabbage to get enough liquid out of the cabbage (or on both previous tries my cabbage was not fresh enough? I think I was being too nice). This was well worth the persistance as the sauerkraut is simply amazing. Another example of how store bought is not representative of what the real thing should taste like (see AB's Good Eats Chilie Powder for another prime example.) Can't wait to make Choucroute Garnie this weekend, this sauerkraut is what I have been waiting for!
    I am in the second week of fermenting and it has been so hot some of the water is evaporating. Does anyone know if I can add non-chlorinated bottled water.
     Please reply to Brian bhbseymour@hotmail.com.
    A failure for me... I used fresh cabbage from the garden and after several days still had no liquid. I used Kosher Salt instead of Pickling Salt (because I read other recepies and they all used Kosher). Oh well...
    Sauerkraut, if served warm temperature and not heated, is a natural source of lacobacillus spores, such as in yogurt. My mother made this on a farm in Kansas when there were no pesticides, so the air had natural spores in it. This is an authentic recipe that my Czech forebears made.
    This recipe is similar to the one my grandma showed me.
    This reciped was perfect. It was just how my dad made it when I was little. Absolutely exceptional!
    This is so much better tasting than store bought in cans or Jars which is petty much all we can get here. Well worth the wait.
    I have been making sauerbraten from a recipe I received many years ago. It was always good but this one beats it out!
     I didn't have juniper berries either. You can get them on a web site or harvest them if you have juniper bushes.
     I found the gravy a tad too sweet so I added 1/2 c. beef broth and a bit of Wondra flour to thicken it.
     Next time I will use less sugar and keep my own notes for what I added.
     Way to go Alton! You are my fav!
     Pat in Kingston, NY
    i think this sounds fast and simple except for all of the inactive time. Good idea when having bratwurst
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