On Saturday we went to This Is The Place Heritage Park to make sauerkraut. Thousands of Mormon pioneers from Switzerland, Germany and other parts of Europe made sauerkraut from cabbages they grew once they reached Utah. Elsewhere on the blog I believe I've posted a recipe from pioneer Mary Helm. Today I just want to share photos of our adventure...
Here you see a row of cabbages dwarfed by yellow summer squash. The squash was planted late, so the cabbage had plenty of time to find its roots before it was overtaken.
Here's my hand reaching out to cut a cabbage.
Just for sense of scale... beautiful, don't you think?
First step is to peel off all the outer leaves. We found plenty of slugs and even a black widow lurking inside.
The heads all cleaned. I felt so proud of the harvest! They were bigger than any I've seen at the grocery store.
I used this old fashioned cabbage cutter over a bowl to slice it thin after quartering the heads. It didn't have all the pieces, and it sorta worked.
My good wife preferred to use a knife and cutting board, and it seemed to be just as efficient.
Next we added salt to the shredded cabbage. We used one pound and a little bit more for 45 pounds of cabbage. It worked out to about one tablespoon or a little extra for each head. After letting it sit for a few minutes in the salt (tossing the shreds to distribute) we pounded it with the poundy pounder to bruise the shreds and work the salt in.
After a good deal of pounding, the cabbage began to yield its water. We started thinking it would work into the three gallon crock. It soon exceeded the crock.
So we began adding the pounded shreds to a five gallon bucket, and mixing it thoroughly to incorporate the emerging brine to evenly distribute. In the end, we filled the bucket. After we took it home, it continued to exude more water content, and filled the bucket to overflowing with brine.
Now at home we have it weighted down with a plate and a weight on top of the plate. The kraut has to stay submerged in the brine to keep it isolated from airborne contaminants. We check it each day and clean out any suspect-looking crud. It should be done in about a month. It has begun to have a fairly funky smell, but the smell mostly stays downstairs with all the other funky old-house smells.
Its that simple!