Apr 292010

sauerkraut fermentation pot

How to make Sauerkraut at home is not so difficult as you may think. When I wrote the last recipe for Sauerkraut I thought it would be good to know how you actually can make Sauerkraut yourself. It is an old traditional way and it is healthy. It might be a bit tricky as it is not a commonly used procedure anymore. But back then when people had no refrigerator nor cans, this was the way to preserve the cabbage during the cold winter months. It takes some time, yes, like all home-made goodies.

The recipe below shows you how to make Sauerkraut at home:

First you need a special Sauerkraut pot (10 l) - it is called Fermenting crock pot.

The one above is available here in the USA and is a German crock pot.

Such a pot would come with stone plates which you put on top of the Sauerkraut. before using them you have to put them in water for 1 hour.
You can to use a special grater for cabbage, or use  a very sharp knife (see other picture).
- 9-10 kg white cabbage, fresh and preferably organic
- Laurel leaves, juniper berries, sliced apple
- white wine (dry Riesling; 250 gr for 10 L) - if you add wine you will get wine-sauerkraut, it is not a must
- Buttermilk (500 gr for 10L) - If you don't have  a store to buy this milk you can get the powder and make it yourself. I found out on yahoo.com that you actually can buy it in every store but depending where you are located it might be different. More information about Buttermilk
- Brine - 50 gr salt on 1 L water

Instructions How you make Sauerkraut
- Remove the outer cabbage leaves, cut it in quarters and remove the stalk, then cut or grate it into fine stripes
- Rinse the pot with hot water and fill in the first layer of cabbage
- In using a masher, mash the layer until water is coming out, the layer needs to be mashed so that it is completely covered with water from the cabbage. Only then
- Add the next layer, mash it and so on until the pot is filled but not completely to the top; the stone plate has to be placed directly under the lid. So keep some spare space for the plate.
In between the layers add the buttermilk and the white wine, the laurel leaves, apple slices and juniper berries, you also can add caraway seeds if you like.
Last step is to put the plate on the top layer and pour the brine over it.

Add the lid and fill the liquid channel with water. The pot has a special lid which has a channel into the pot (I call it liquid channel). This mechanism allows that fermenting gases can go out and no oxygen gets in. It also helps to prevent the bad smelling while fermenting. You need to have this channel always filled with water and never open the lid!
Keep the Sauerkraut in the pot for 4-6 weeks.

You need to mash the Sauerkraut better and more if there is not a layer of 5 cm water on top; this very vital. So mash it a lot. In former times people used their feet to mash it! You could do this too....
- First you would keep the pot in the kitchen for about 3 days. You need room temperature, so it should be not to hot and not too cold.
- Then after 3 days keep the pot in a colder room (basement, cellar, room which is not heated). You can see that the liquid starts to become foamy and also it will start to small unpleasant, but this is not a bad sign. It is normal. The Sauerkraut is fermenting for 4 weeks - now don't open the lid!
- When the Sauerkraut is done, remove the first upper layer which is normally not tasteful.
- You can store it in the pot but if you are not using it a lot, always remove the upper layer before using. You need to have it always covered with 5 cm brine.
- Sometime the liquid starts to be very foamy and is overflowing. Keep the pot in a big dish or on an old tray.

Good Luck!

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