Making sauerkraut is something for the fall, when the cabbages are fresh and cheap. But, having made my ‘kraut last October and skimmed its scum all winter,1 I am now portioning it into jars and canning what I won’t be able to eat fresh. Emphasis on me, since the little family are not enthusiasts, and will eat it only à la Mary Poppins—”A spoonful of bacon helps the medicine go down, medicine go down….”.
I want to note canning is not the recommendation of Wild Fermentation’s Sandor Katz, who proselytizes that we should eat fermented foods at all stages, from the freshest to the dankest. I think he is probably right, but I haven’t got past Reuben sandwiches and perogies with fried onion and ‘kraut. But I have my dreams…
Anyhow. Writing about making sauerkraut is for another day. Today I can. And will.
I am saving a few jars fresh, which will be gifted, traded, or stored in our fridge for eating. Other than that, simply heat the kraut to between 85°C and 95°C (180°F and 210°F)—do not boil. Fill jars with hot ‘kraut, leaving ½” headspace, then process in a boiling water bath. Pints get 15 minutes and quarts get 20.
- 15 pounds of cabbage made 13 pints.2
- There was a litre of brine left over3 after filling the jars. Next time I will reserve a couple of cups of brine before heating, for drinking as a healthful tonic.
- 13 pints was four fresh in the fridge, eight in the big canner and one in the asparagus pot. I hate wasting energy heating water, so I bought an asparagus pot at the thrift shop. It came with a wire basket and will hold a quart jar. Perfect for pickling cukes from the occasional vine or rounding out a batch like this one.
- As if I needed more reasons to love my Squeezo Strainer, the wooden plunger was the perfect tool to pack ‘kraut in the jars.
- All of this could have happened months ago. A big point of sauerkraut is to preserve food without energy, so we should eat it throughout its life and can the leftovers. But as I said, I have dreams…someday I will be in harmony with the natural rhythms of fermented cabbage.