The Blind Pig household has spent the morning making Kraut. We always make Kraut when the zodiac signs are in the head (we use the head sign for any pickling we do). This year our Kraut making is more exciting than usual-since we grew the cabbage ourselves. Due to the generosity of Hometown Seeds sponsoring our garden-we were able to grow enough cabbage to use for this run of Kraut-we usually have to buy it.
Typically when we make Kraut-we shred the cabbage with knives and a cutting board-cause we like a coarser texture of Kraut. This year The Deer Hunter wanted to try using the food processor to chop the cabbage. Before we had done 2 heads-my processor gave up the ghost. Making do with 2 really small choppers we managed to get it all chopped. But at this point in the game-I'm thinking it's easier and quicker to go the coarse chop knife method unless you have a heavy duty chopper/shredder.
We used an 8-gallon crock. We really didn't have enough cabbage to fill it-but both of us were anxious to use the crock-it was The Deer Hunter's Grandmother Lura's. We only recently acquired it-and couldn't wait to make something of our own in her old crock.
To make Kraut the old time way you need:
- a crock (last year we discussed using food grade plastic containers, but I've never used one-so if any of you have used them with success-please leave a comment and tell us about it)
- shredded/chopped cabbage-save a couple of your bigger cabbage leaves whole-to cover the Kraut while it's working
- salt-either pickling salt or un-iodized table salt
- peppers are optional-but we usually mix in a few banana peppers
- a plate-and 2 quart jars filled with water
Next comes the salt. The Deer Hunter sprinkles about 2 handfuls on top of the cabbage/pepper layer. He says-you can't put too much salt-but you can put to little salt. In other words-the cabbage will only pickle as much as it'll pickle-you can't really put too much salt. Makes sense?
Next-you put another layer of cabbage-peppers-salt just like the first one. In between each layer-it's important to pack the Kraut down-this helps draw out the water that's in the cabbage-as well as ensure you have enough room in the crock.
It doesn't take many layers for you to begin to see the liquid coming up over the cabbage.
Continue layering-until you've used all your cabbage or reached about 4 or 5 inches from the top of the crock.
Once you've finished the layers-take the big cabbage leaves you kept in the beginning-and lay them on top of the Kraut covering it.
Place the 2 quart jars filled with water on top of the plate to make sure the Kraut stays submerged. I've read accounts of folks using a rock to hold down the Kraut-but we just use the plate and jars of water.
Next-place a towel over the top of the crock and tie it-so it doesn't slip off. Place the crock in a cool dry place-mine's in a corner of my kitchen.
It takes at least 2 weeks for the Kraut to work-but the longer you leave it the stronger it will get-so you may want to taste after 2 weeks and see if it's sour enough for your bunch. After you decide the kraut is ready you can put it in jars-and can it. However-you can leave it in the crock longer if you need or want too. In the old days-folks left Kraut in the crock till it was all eaten-dipping out some as they needed it.
The signs are right for making Kraut-today and tomorrow (July 5 and 6). The signs will be right again on August 1 and August 2. I've heard about folks who always pickle in the neck-or even the heart. Among all the various opinions I've heard-it seems the higher in the body the sign is-the better for pickling. And most folks do seem to agree you should never pickle when the signs are below the heart.
If you have any questions about the old timey way to make Kraut-leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once my Kraut has finished working-I'll show you how to can it.
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