I was so excited to harvest my very first cabbages! Not just first of the season, but the very first cabbages I have ever grown. They were beautiful, firm, and a wonderful healthful green. We had 4 large heads of cabbage ready for harvest, and we have 4 MORE that will need harvesting soon. What to do with 4 large cabbages??
This is something I wanted to do for a very long time. My husband LOVES sauerkraut, but hates that he has to buy so much at one time from the store. I have never really eaten it so it was always just him opening a can and having too much left over. I told him I would make him some sauerkraut and can it is little 4 oz jars, so that he only needed to open on serving at a time. I just hadn’t got around to it until now.
Pickled foods aren’t my favorite, but I recognize the importance of pickling as a way to preserve our harvest. Actually, there are so many great things about fermented foods, beyond food preservation, that it would need another post all it’s own. I know I will need to get use to it eating fermented foods eventually. Why not start now?
I went to a fermentation class recently with our local Master Food Preservers program, which gave me some confidence. Now here I am with a LOT of cabbage and armed with my smart phone keyed to a recipe.
- 4 heads of cabbage fresh cut from our garden
- 6 tbsp sea salt
Yup, that’s it!
You can see how compact your cabbage becomes as you continue to mix your cabbage. If you are putting your cabbage straight into your crock as I did, it is a good idea to start crushing your cabbage as you layer as well. This crushing helps to release the juices from the
cabbage. You need these juices for the fermentation to work.
(Left and above) This is about 2 cabbages worth of shreds in these photos.
(Right) You can see all 4 cabbages fit into about 1/3 of the jar! They compress quite a bit.
You can already begin to see the moisture collecting at the bottom of my jar.
Over the course of about an hour you can see the accumulation of liquid beginning to cover the cabbage. It is important to weigh the cabbage down so that it stays under the liquid by about an inch.
I just filled a mason jar with water and capped it. I stood this on top of a round plastic tupperware lid and gently applied downward pressure around the lid to help crush the cabbage some more.
Then I let it sit over night.
The next morning the lid and about 1 inch of the jar was completely submerged in liquid.
“Fermentation naturally stops when the sauerkraut reaches the proper acidity. Temperature affects the speed of fermentation. Between 60°F and 65°F, it will take 6 weeks to make sauerkraut. The ideal temperature is between 70°F and 75°F where it will ferment properly in 3 to 4 weeks.” – Penn State University Extention
Now I just need to wait 4 weeks for it to ferment. I may need to lift the lid to the glass crock now and again to release the gasses that form. That’s it!
More on my sauerkraut progress as it finishes it’s work. 🙂
Once you have your lovely batch of kraut finished you can learn to store it for long term shelf storage here.