Making and canning sauerkraut is pretty simple, but it takes a little time and patience. The results are well worth it! Let me share with you how I do it and remember, I like simple, nothing fancy here on the Shock farm, including making sauerkraut!
Here is what you need:
20 lbs cabbage
3/4 cup canning salt
stainless steel stockpot or bucket
First things first, take off the outer and damaged leaves of mature heads of cabbage. Rinse off the cabbage, cut into halves and remove the core. You can either use a food processor to shred the cabbage (my preferred method) or cut it into thin shreds. Using the food processor saves time, but if you like the longer shreds, cut them yourself.
Work with about five pounds at a time. After you have shredded five pounds, put it into a large bowl and mix in three tablespoons of salt. Transfer to a large stockpot or bucket and press the cabbage down with your hands until the juice starts to surface. You want the juice to cover the cabbage.
After you have shredded all of your cabbage and added the correct amount of salt to each five pound batch, continue to press it down to bring the juice out. If you aren’t getting enough juice, you can make brine by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of canning salt to one quart of water, bring it to a boil, cool, then add to the cabbage. When you are pressing the cabbage, be careful that you don’t bruise it. You can use a wooden spoon, but I find using my hand is the most effective with minimal bruising.
Cover the sauerkraut with an upside down plate or lid that is slightly smaller than the pot of cabbage. Weigh the cabbage under the brine with the plate and cover with a cloth or two. You might need extra weight to keep the brine above the the cabbage.
If you see bubbles, that means it is fermenting. Check the sauerkraut each day or two to remove any scum and mold. Keep this up until around three weeks.
It will smell so be prepared. You don’t want it to be sitting somewhere that is a high traffic area.
Now you are ready for canning. This requires the water bath method. Clean jars should be placed in the oven at 200 degrees. Have your lids ready in simmering water.
Heat the sauerkraut to 180 degrees in a large saucepot. Pack the sauerkraut in the hot jars, leaving about a 1/2 inch headspace. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the sauerkraut, if not, add more homemade brine. Remove the air bubbles and secure the lids.
Process pints for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath and quarts for 20 minutes.
I also froze the heated sauerkraut by putting it in ziploc bags and squeezing out the air. I plan on using these first, then the canned.
Simple Kraut recipe using three ingredients:
2 pints sauerkraut
1 lb bratwurst
7-8 medium new potatoes
Cut potatoes into bite size pieces. Boil in water until slightly tender, not mushy tender. Meanwhile, cook bratwursts in one inch of water until no longer pink. Cut into bite size pieces. Drain potatoes then add sauerkraut and bratwursts. Simmer on medium-low heat until heated through.