I grew up making sauerkraut (along with everything else). Regular readers can’t be disappointed: I grew up on a working ranch where we raised or hunted everything we ate. It has easily been since the mid-80s since I’ve made it! What I mostly recall is endless bowls of chopped cabbage and sneaking the plate off the crock, checking how the sauerkraut progressed.
I don’t remember anything helpful.
(Speaking of helpful, one of the great things about homemade sauerkraut is it’s FABULOUSLY healing due to probiotics for people with gut issues — it’s also FABULOUSLY healing for normals! Best of all, it’s delicious. You can also buy something like Flanagans. Remember, if it’s tinned, the probiotics are dead. Here’s what Flanagans parent company lists as health benefits of raw sauerkraut like theirs or your homemade kraut!)
Crock salvaged from barn
First, I had to find a crock. Mum uses the 2 gallon crock as her utensil holder. I think the 1 gallon stores salt someplace. I believe the 5 gallon was broken — used as a planter and the 3 gallon’s gone missing (probably borrowed by the Hoods, real name, who are much like Pa Kettle when it comes to borrowing*). I had to settle for the 4 gallon, which was sitting in one of the barns. I washed it with a hose and dish soap outside first. Obviously.
Crock rewashed inside
Then, I took it inside for more washingses. I let it drain upside down whilst chopping over 4lb of cabbage. I’m not good with knives, so that meant 90 minutes of chopping (I passed the time by listening to old Star Talk podcasts).
As I’d forgotten, I asked mum what the ratio was for sauerkraut and salt. ‘1lb salt for 40lb cabbage.’
Crock with layers of salt and cabbage
Right. I had 4lb cabbage, so I ciphered (always a shaky premise) that was 1/10 of 40, therefore I needed 1/10 of a lb of salt. I used Celtic Sea Salt because it’s what I have. Growing up, I’d have used kosher salt. As I’d drop another layer of cabbage shreds, I’d scatter a table spoon of salt, mix and sort of tamp down.
Bobby regularly got up to look at what I was doing, without getting too close. This 4 gallon crock is about half my height! It was hard to wrangle empty but as I filled it, I barely managed to place it in its resting spot.
topped with cabbage leaves
plated sauerkraut crock
I topped it was we did when I was a kid (with cabbage leaves and a plate — more on that later). And finally, a tea towel because bugs will get interested.
Crock topped with tea towel
A few hours later, I went to go check it. Here’s the ‘later.’ All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, could hardly get that mfing plate back off it again!
O.M.G. My plates as an adult are a different style and size than those used as a kid. I finally got it off and NO I don’t have other plates to use. I have dessert plates, which are way too small, but I only have one set of ‘china’ (a ‘cafe’ style set of 12 pieces or so that cost about $20, about 20 years ago).
Out came the google. It seems a lot of folks use a water-filled baggie, of course, they’re using MASON jars en lieu de crock. I had a big-arsed baggie, so I’m trying that. It has totally effed with my program and now I’m verklempt about the whole fakakta mess.
At any rate, it’s very close to how I grew up making it with most of the memories gone and too large of a plate. Oh, and of course the amount of cabbage is 1/10 what I’d have gone as a kid!
EDIT: I forgot to mention, in addition to all the pickled items we made (we pickled almost anything, much like frying…think pig’s feet, eggs, okra, etc.), we also made ‘Salty Brine Pickles.‘ I realize saying ‘salty brine’ is redundant. You’re getting a Family Heirloom Stupid Name. Those were also raw/fermented/full of probiotics.
* I didn’t test it for Rick-rolling but it began with the full length film ‘Ma and Pa Kettle,’ which was made in the 40s but was day-to-day life similar to my life, if I were Ma…only my kids were the adults and whoever was there.