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Sauerkraut: The Science Of (A Call To Arms)

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    Sauerkraut: The Science Of (A Call To Arms)

    Are You Interested In Making Sauerkraut?

    I am posting to speak on an important topic that we all refuse to address. Meathead mentions it in his articles. It is essential to some of our most beloved foods. We eat it, we love it, and we use it. BUT, we never seem to make it. How can you have "brats" and reuben sammiches without it. There are many more ways to eat sauerkraut with many other beleoved cuts of meat including: by itself. It's so nutritious, even the raw foodies make it and eat it. Why don't we? All it takes is just a little bit of prep and some time (not unlike ribs, I'd say).


    I am ready to take the plunge, invest in a fermenting crock, and get started on my way to homemade, better-than-store-bought fermented cabbage goodness. However, I am scared. I've read many tutorials and recipe methods, but there is still a lot of mystery surrounding this: What is it? How do I make it? What equipment to I need? What are the dangers? What are those things floating in the liquid? What are the truly important steps? How will I know if my sauerkraut is a success, or if I should throw it out before it ever touches my tongue? Once I've made an ample supply, how do I preserve it so that it's always there when I need it? Meathead, can you please explain it to me in the way that you do?

    Yes, that's right! This is a call to arms. Let's demystify sauerkraut. We make our own ribs, we make our own bacon, we make our own pastrami. We're obviously not afraid to get our feet wet and our hands dirty. Why would we want to spoil that pastrami with the convenience of a mediocre, store-bought, pickled substance from a jar? I'm asking everyone to join in the supplication. Let Meathead know that we want to make sauerkraut. Join in as a single chorus and demand that we understand!

    ~ Corey O.

    I am not sure whether this deserves to be in the "condiments" or "other recipes" section of the forum. In Germany, referring to sauerkraut as a condiment would be punished by social ridicule. However, this forum is based out of the good ole USA where the history of food tradition is characterized by a departure from food tradition (great article here: http://www.psmag.com/books-and-cultu...american-72942). I will defer to the moderators if they wish to move this post.
    Yes! Teach Me To Make Sauerkraut!
    No! I'm Scared, And It's Too Much Trouble!
    What Is Sour Clout?
    Last edited by coreyo; September 17, 2015, 09:56 AM.

    When I get the time, maybe next weekend, I want to try this recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make...son-jar-193124


      Originally posted by Craigar View Post
      When I get the time, maybe next weekend, I want to try this recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make...son-jar-193124
      Great! I was planning to try something similar. Let me know if you figure out any tips or tricks.

      The problem is that I finished a batch of homemade pastrami last week and went through a similarly-sized jar of sauerkraut in less than 7 days. I think I'll try a test batch with something small, but clearly sauerkraut needs to be made in larger batches. As I understand it, sauerkraut needs a minimum of 6 weeks before it is ready. I was thinking about investing in one of these types of vessels:



        6 weeks is what I understood too, for larger batches. For now I am going to start small with a mason jar or 2 (which won't last long!) and try to graduate to larger batches.


          😀😄😃😊😋, Great Idea, We need Help from above, Meathead? Dan


            I am curious as to why he hasn't already done this. I am sure there is some kind of reason. Or perhaps he just hasn't gotten around to it?


              Bear in mind that the finished kraut should be eaten cold, as in not heated. Heating will destroy the beneficial bacteria that the kraut contains. If you plan on heating, then a vinegar kraut recipe would be the way to go. The following may be helpful.
              Last edited by Munch; December 16, 2016, 08:37 PM.


                Originally posted by Munch View Post
                Bear in mind that the finished kraut should eaten cold, as in not heated. Heating will destroy the beneficial bacteria that the kraut contains. If you plan on heating, then a vinegar kraut recipe would be the way to go
                That's a good point. In his curing and bacon articles, Meathead outlines the differences between homemade bacon and store-bought bacon. I'd like to get some more information on how the store-bought sauerkraut differs from the more traditional, homemade stuff. The kind that I get from a bag or a jar has a distinctly pickle-like flavor to it. I suspect that they use vinegar at some step. There's also the matter of preserving kraut once it's fermented to the desired level. So many questions.

                I'm not a big fan of heating the sauerkraut in a pot. I like to grab mine cold, wring it out, and allow it to be heated gently by the brat or in my Reuban sammich grilled-cheese style. Alternatively, perhaps we could get some ideas on how we can heat the sauerkraut to a temperature that is pleasant but doesn't kill the beneficial microbes.


                Originally posted by Spinaker View Post
                I am curious as to why he hasn't already done this. I am sure there is some kind of reason. Or perhaps he just hasn't gotten around to it?
                One of the great things about Meathead's articles is that he speaks from experience. His instruction comes from his years of experimentation in a given area. It's certainly possible that he has little or no experience in the sauerkraut area. If he's going to give us an in-depth article, he may have to do a lot of outside consultation or ask someone else to write the article. Sauerkraut takes at least 6 weeks to make. If he wants to give us an article from his own personal experience, we may have to wait several months (or several years) to give him time to do his own experimentation and get back to us. If this is the case, the I would argue that it is all the more important; a challenge!


                  I have been making Sauerkraut for most of a year now. There is always a mason jar or 2 in the fridge. One large mouth quart jar takes 1 average head of cabbage, 1.5 tbs kosher salt, shred it and tamp it in with a wooden dowel. Its a 15 minute job. I have 1/2 jar in the fridge thats 2 months old and I would not hesitate to use it 2 more months. Leave a inch head room for expansion in the jar, 4 days on the counter then in the fridge. Crack the lid to release the gas now and then or spend $4 for a air lock lid. Its far superior to the store bought.

                  I did use a plastic bag with a few table spoons of water in the top of the jar to hold the cabbage below the juices until it finishes fermentation until I bought some glass discs for that purpose.

                  Happy to answer any questions.
                  Last edited by Steve Retherford; September 18, 2015, 01:33 PM.



                    I think this sounds like a great idea. In the spirt of challenge I would like to nominate you to do the testing and report your finding to us.

                    Are you up for it?

                    : )


                      Originally posted by Steve Retherford View Post
                      Happy to answer any questions.
                      How long do you allow it to ferment initially?
                      Do you allow it to do most of the fermentation in the fridge?
                      Once you get it at the sweet spot, is there a way to stop the fermentation and preserve it?
                      Have you tried any other seasonings like dill or celery seeds?
                      Have you kept it long enough to go bad?
                      Have you had any failed batches? If so, do you know why? How could you tell?


                      • Steve Retherford
                        Steve Retherford commented
                        Editing a comment
                        1) 4 days on counter then in the fridge.
                        2) Start tasting after a week.
                        3) No but it does slow down to nearly a stop.
                        4) Some people use caraway seeds, but why change something so traditional.
                        5) It has never lasted more then 4 months.
                        6) Never with Sauerkraut. I once got some mold with Kimchee and wiped it off with vineger, it finished fermenting and was fine. They say a failed batch will smell so foul there will be no question but I don't know anyone that has happened to.

                      • Steve Retherford
                        Steve Retherford commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I should mention while the jar is on the counter I wrap a towel around it, they say sunlight damages the process.

                      I suppose this is the next best thing, eh? Thats why i love this place. Always someone willing to step up and help.


                        Absolutely Spin. Absolutely!


                          Wow, what timing! I just started a fresh batch last night! Here is my setup. I've only done large batches between 3 and 5 gallon in a crock.

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                          I got this crock and mallot from my mother in law. I used to help her make sauerkrout when she still lived in her own home.
                          I used 9 large heads of cabbage for this batch. I like to add onion and garlic and this time I put in 6 medium yellow onions and one head of garlic and a food processor was used to chop it all up. In total I put about 1 1/3 cup of pickling salt and mashed it all using that mallot. Although I don't know how much that mallot really works to making moisture .. I think the presence of the salt draws the moisture from the cabbage just as easily. It does work to mix it though.

                          I'll leave it in the downstairs utility room. It'll stay at around 67 - 69 F for 29 days. I'll check on it every morning and skim any off color juice that form. Usually white and milky. Keep it covered with a towl to keep any bugs out of it. When it's ready I'll scoop out about 2 cups and put it into ZipLoc freezer bags and freeze them. I don't know if the probiotics survive the freezing or not but I'm not worried about that. I like to cook mine up and make German Chicken.

                          Here are a few sites that may help you and this topic:


                          Have fun!!



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