Here in the northern Rockies, our cabbage is never ready in time for St. Patricks day. In fact at that time of the year, it is just getting started. Instead we have late harvests, usually around this time every year. I like to leave mine in the garden as long as possible, even going so far as to cover them with a tarp on chilly nights. I really want to get as much growth out of each plant as I possibly can. After all, more growth means more food.
Last week I was outside tending to my gardens, and I found this little guy tucked underneath my marigolds.
I keep marigolds planted on each side of my cabbage rows to help ward off cabbage moths which are simply awful here in June and July. The marigolds have such a strong scent that the moths seem to not even know that there is cabbage growing nearby: I like that.
This little cabbage had been hiding until a recent frost killed some of the marigolds and exposed him. Once in the sunlight he began to grow too fast and he split on one side. I left him in the garden as long as I could but with no marigolds to protect him and the split getting bigger, I thought it best to harvest the little fella before the split got any worse. So I brought him in and turned him into Sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is ridiculously easy to make and there are no special tools required if you make it in small batches. Because of this, I like to make my kraut one cabbage at a time, that way I always have a fresh batch on hand. Here is how I do it:
Remove the outer damaged leaved and wash the cabbage to remove any soil that may have clung to it. Cut the head in half and cut out the core. Don’t throw it away though, because you will need it.
Cut each half, in half again and cut the entire head into strips.
Put the cabbage strips into a bowl with about 1 TBS of salt. How much salt to use is all personal preference, but you must use at least 1 TBS per medium cabbage for proper fermentation. After salting it, you will need to squeeze and mash with your hands or a utensil until the cabbage releases its sweet juices. This takes about 10 minutes or so depending on how much cabbage you are processing.
Once you have enough juice to completely cover the cabbage you can pack it into a jar, just remember you need to leave headroom for the liquid. Your cabbage should be completely submerged by at least a 1/4” when you press the matter down.
Take the cabbage core that you set aside earlier and drop it into the jar on top of your cabbage and juice. This core is going to help keep the kraut submerged, which is very important and it will keep your weight (which ever type you decide to use, from touching the cabbage.
I then set a smaller jar inside the larger one and I fill it with water. This acts as a weight to help keep the cabbage submerged. You can also use a rock or other nonporous item as a weight as long as it is clean and you can easily remove it later. Jars have always worked for me, so that is what I use.
I cover both jars with a piece of muslin and secure it with a rubber band. The sauerkraut is now ready for fermenting. I like to leave my kraut for at least 2 weeks before I start tasting it to see if it is ready. Usually it is ready for consumption by that time, but occasionally it takes up to three weeks.
If your sauerkraut taste too salty to you, it can be rinsed prior to eating. I always store mine in the refrigerator and I keep it completely submerged in the brine until I am ready to take some out and eat it. I have kept kraut like this for up to 6 months, usually it doesn’t last that long though.
BTW, Kathy over at Sewing Etc. was also busy making sauerkraut this week. She did hers a bit differently so you might want to pop over and see how she is making hers: https://livinginrapidcity.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/making-sauerkraut/