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Saurkraut by the jar; no fail method

Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

This is a great way to make saurkraut in small batches, without using a big crock.
You'll need sterilized glass quart jars with tight fitting lids; canning jars are best, but anything will work as long as it has a tight fitting lid.

Finely shred clean cabbage and let stand covered for a few hours until it wilts slightly.

Pack cabbage tightly into jars. TIGHTLY. Put in a handful, tamp it in, add more, etc. Until the jar is completely filled to the top; no head space.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of NO IODINE salt (kosher, etc.) and 1 teaspoon of sugar on top of each filled jar.

Slowly pour in BOILING WATER until the jar is overflowing. You may need to gently tap or tip the jar as you fill, to get as much air out as possible. It's very important that the water be boiling hot.

Once jar is full to overflowing, put its lid on LOOSELY. It should be tight enough to keep stuff out, but not so tight that gases and liquid can't seep out. Put the jar in a pan to catch overflow.

Put jar in a cool dark place (basement is fine). In 3-5 days, check the jar. There will be overflow in the pan, and the top inch or so of the jar will have no liquid in it. TOP OFF the jar with brine: 1 TBSP kosher salt mixed in 2 cups of cold water. Fill to the tippy top, then put the lid on loosely again.

Continue to check every 5 days or so, topping off the jars with brine as liquid seeps out. Keep the lids on loosely. After about 10 -14 days, or whenever the jars will stop seeping liquid, top them off one last time. Screw the lids on TIGHTLY. Clean the jar's outside, and put it in a cool dark place to store and to continue to age. You can eat the kraut now, but it will taste better after it sits for about 1 month. It will keep for over a year. Discard any jars that get black or "funny colored" (Green, black, gray, blue, pink, etc.). If only the top portion of a jar is darkened (lite brown, tan), that's ok. You can discard the darkened kraut and still use the whiter kraut underneath. Good kraut will smell like kraut! Bad kraut will stink. I always boil my homemade kraut for a minute or 2 before eating, just to be extra safe.

I've used this recipe for 20 years and have only had to toss out a few jars. Before that, trying to make saurkraut in crocks...disaster. It's a very tasty way to preserve those extra heads of cabbage.

Jim Falls, WI(Zone 4a)

Why the sugar? I had some kraut that was sweet and didn't like it.

Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

I know what you mean. But if you only add 1 teaspoon to a quart you won't taste it. I think the sugar is there to help the fermentation process. You could try not using it; I don't know if that would alter the process or not. But I can assure you that the kraut is NOT sweet; it's very good.

Jim Falls, WI(Zone 4a)

All right will do and am looking forward to trying it next year. I mean this year!

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I'm going to try this, too. Thank you for posting.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I switched to making kraut in quart jars simply because there is just me to eat it. I never add boiling water, and in fact seldom add any water at all since the cabbage will release enough liquid as it's pounded. The benefit of lacto-fermented veggies is the added/increased nutritional content from the lactobacillus action the fermentation process.

I do question whether (or how much) enzymes are destroyed by the boiling water in your method. Do you have any references on this method? It would be good to kill some of the unwanted airborne bacteria that live in every kitchen (and even on our skins), but how to know what to kill and what to keep?

Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

Since the boiling water is poured over the shredded cabbage and then immediately begins to cool (sort of "flash" cooking), I rather doubt that many nutrients are lost. I think the idea is to sterlize as much as possible any surface bacteria clinging to the jar, cabbage, etc.

I think will try your cold water or no water method too! I would think that no water would result in a stronger flavored kraut (more sour).

You know, I really think that fermented cabbage is probably one of the safest things to eat...the old Pennsylvania Dutch here in Pennsylvania would bury heads of cabbage underground, wrapped in straw, to store them. They did not consider any cabbage that wasn't yellow on the outside as even fit to eat.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

My method comes from Sandor Kratz (Wild Fermentation) and I do a slew of veggies and veggie combos. I do use a couple of tablespoons of fresh whey if I happen to be making cheese, helps to jump-start the fermentation, which is probably what your sugar does.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

Eating the saurkraut I made with this method earlier this year. Tastes great! Thank you for posting this method!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Interesting. I just took a workshop from CSEA and have a jar sitting on my counter. they add a brine to the cabbage in the jar and say that no way should the cabbage be above the brine level. Keep pushing it down or use weight to keep it below liquid level. Comments?

Oh, I have never eaten sauerkraut in my life. But I am taking a series on canning (jarring) meat, fish, jam, jellies, pickling, and next week dehydrating.

Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

It is important to keep the cabbage below the brine, which is why you have to periodically "top off" the jars as the fermentation progresses (usually within the first 10-14 days). Cabbage that is left "high and dry" inside a tightly sealed jar after fermentation is complete will usually get a bit mushy and brownish in color. It is by no means dangerous...I usually just scoop it off and discard it (my hens love it). The whiter, crisper kraut in the bottom of the jar is perfectly fine to eat.

One of the best ways to "introduce" yourself to saurkraut is to use it in a casserole with smoked beef sausage, kielbasa, or even hotdogs. It's a good topping (traditional in my part of the U.S.) for hotdogs as well. Fresh or canned mushrooms, cooked in with the kraut in casseroles are also very good.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I cooked the kraut with potatoes and chicken legs - yummy! Than you so much for posting this method. I has tried saurkraut before with my expensive harscher crock and failed miserably!

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the post.

I will try it. I always grow about a half dozen heads of cabbage in spring and again for late winter. I have three heads in the garden now that are ready.

Wish I'd read this before I bought two Pickl-It fermentation jars.

Molino, FL(Zone 8b)

I'm going to try this. I tried another method which involved chopping the cabbage then sprinkling with salt and massaging it until it released it's juices. Which my arthiritic fingers didn't appreciate. It took a lot of massaging. :) Then you were to put it in the jar and put some kind of weight, I used a shot glass, to keep the cabbage under the liquid and then put the lid on. So after all this in a few days it smelled really bad and I was afraid to eat it. Your method sounds much better.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

It does work and it is so easy!

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