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Sauerkraut: The Science Of (A Call To Arms)

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    Can't believe I found this thread on here.
    I just finished another batch 2 weeks ago.
    I have always used a Harsch Crock and have never had a bad batch in any season.
    I just bought a Crazy Korean Kimchee crock and have it loaded right now with its first batch.
    The Harsch Crocks are a little spendy but the Crazy Korean food grade plastic pots would let you experiment a little at a reasonable cost.
    Lacto Fermented Brussel Sprouts on a hot dog instead of the traditional saur kraut is a really nice combination.
    My own personal never fail recipe is.
    3 TBSP Coarse sea salt to 5 pound cabbage.
    1/3 of the cabbage-1/3 of the salt and mash together.Continue the same until it is all used. Room temp cabbage will let go of the juice faster.
    Pack firmly into a Harscht crock and cover with cabbage leaves to keep the floaters down.
    Add the stones and push down until they are covered in juice.
    Stick the lid on--add the water to the rim to make it air tight and set it in a cool corner. Check the water seal every few days to be sure it doesn't evaporate. It is kind of a good sign to walk by and hear the lid ''burp'' it means everything is working like it should.
    I've found that too much salt will ferment but it will ferment much slower than the 3 TBSP to 5 pounds.
    Kraut is temperamental sometimes for me.
    Some is done in 3 or 4 weeks--some takes an extra week or so.
    The whole brussel sprouts will ferment in as little as 3 weeks which is surprising.
    Last edited by Cheef; October 13, 2015, 08:07 PM.


      Cheef how do you know, or what do you look for to tell whether your kraut is ready? I always went by the 29 day mark as that's what my mother in law always did.


        Hi cdd315.
        The 29 day mark is pretty much what I go for.
        Hard not to peek and sample but 4 weeks seems to be a good starting point to check.
        After 4 weeks it's a matter of taste, test and personal satisfaction. The salt taste gives way to the sour and eat when you like.
        I never can kraut because it doesn't last long enough around my house. Well cleaned jars and right into the refrigerator.
        People don't realize how healthy lacto fermented vegetables are. They are said to be higher in probiotics than good yoghurt.
        If you have a dog 1 teaspoon a day (a small forks worth) promotes gut health and they will beg you for it.
        I went on a quest and began making my own because I spent 50 years trying to find kraut like my German Aunt and Grandma made--I was never able to find anything that even came close. I remember helping Grandma and Aunt Mary can their kraut for storage in the root cellar. They would always add the cabbage cores to the middle of the crock and let them ferment along with the kraut. They called it the kraut pickle, and it was always a special treat for helping to can. Stick your cores in next time and you will be in for a treat when they ferment.
        Most processed kraut will contain vinegar, and is not even a relation to the lacto fermented kraut.
        The Harscht crock make everything easier and I suppose much more sterile with the water seal around the dome.
        I'm kind of anxious to see the results the Crazy Korean KimChee crock will give because it is so much more compact in size.
        One observation.
        Occasionally you will get a ''scum'' on top of a batch. If it is a white-floating powder you are OK. Just carefully clean it out with a sterile spoon. If it has tentacles that extend down into the juice be cautious and give that batch a toss. I've never encountered the tentacles but have seen a little powder once in a while.


          Cheef Thank you for sharing. I guess I will be going on a crock hunt this weekend.


            Just a thought.
            A lot of folks are hesitant to make kraut for the fear of food poisoning. I suppose there is a risk but In 5 years I have never had any kind of problem.
            Anyone who does decide to ferment should do their own research, and go with what makes them comfortable.
            There is a vast wealth of information on the internet concerning lacto fermentation, and a lot of it will bust the myths of the inherent dangers associated with it.
            One thing I am always cautious of is starting with clean equipment and clean hands. Lacto ferment is a little picky, so clean to me means sterilized with HOT water. Soap residue can affect the process.
            I always use spring water to avoid the chemicals in tap water.
            Best advice I could give is--go for it if YOU are comfortable--avoid it if you aren't.
            Seems to me in modern times we have kind of forgotten what got us here.
            We fear the old ways because we are a lot more knowledgeable to some of the dangers.
            Lacto ferment is pretty much safe but there is a risk to anything--hell anything processed and bought from a grocery store inherits a consumer risk.


              Cheef that's a good idea with the core .. I'll have to do that next time. I don't know if you read my post above but I like to freeze the kraut. Do you think the probiotics and other benefits will still be available by freezing?


                I've never heard of freezing it so not sure.
                I do know it will last 3 or 4 months in the fridge with no affect.
                On the pickle--be sure to trim the end off to get rid of the spot the cabbage was cut.
                It is interesting to me that different salts will result in different flavor.
                Always use a natural sea salt with no chemicals or iodine.
                Last batch I made was with a salt called Real Salt out of Utah.
                I really like the Real Salt for just everyday use also.
                The Kraut I made with Real Salt had almost a pinkish hue to it and resulted in an almost sweet taste to it. Sweet isn't the right description--but it is a nice taste.


                  My wife makes a ''sweet/sour'' Saur Kraut in the oven.
                  Add sugar, and bacon on top.
                  I call it Crack Kraut because I can't stop eating it until it is gone.
                  If anyone is interested I will post the recipe if she will give it to me.
                  She's kind of stingy with her recipes.


                    Thought I would drop back into this thread with my new way to make kraut.
                    I am on my fourth batch now and this has me sold over the old crock method. I am getting REALLY tasty ferments in 2 to 3 weeks.
                    I believe it is so much faster and easier because there is no air gap to slow down the ferment.
                    5 pounds shredded cabbage
                    3 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt. (different salts give different tastes.) DO NOT used iodized or treated salts--natural salt!!!
                    pound to combine well.
                    let set on counter top to release juice
                    Pack VERY firmly into container and place the inner seal on top until the juice flows out of the weep hole--plug it and wait 2 weeks in a corner at anywhere from 65 to 75 degrees to begin taste testing.
                    SOOO simple!! Every batch so far has been consistent and GOOD!!!
                    Here is a link to the new fangled ''crock'' this thing beats my Harscht crocks hands down.
                    CHEAP way to experiment.
                    Last edited by Cheef; February 23, 2016, 02:05 PM.


                    • Dr ROK
                      Dr ROK commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Cheef, What size crock are you using for this recipe?
                      Last edited by Dr ROK; February 24, 2016, 06:25 PM.

                    Great thread here. I too am a huge fan of home fermenting. Along with sauerkraut, I've also done dill cucumbers, beets and kimchi. I have a three gallon croc so my batches tend to be more than we eat in a month or two so I can them for preservation. I do everything basically the same way Cheef has described so I don't have much to add other than, if you've ever considered home fermenting, try it. It's fun, the product is superior to any store bought product, and unlike store bought you know exactly what you and your family are eating. Happy fermenting!


                      I have to admit that I've never considered fermenting my own sauerkraut ... although, thanks to this thread, my mind could be a-changin'. Instead, I've got a well used recipe for doctoring up "good" store-bought 'kraut to better suit my taste for such things:

                      o 4 slices bacon, diced
                      o 2 yellow onions
                      o 2 garlic cloves, crushed
                      o 2 apples, peeled, cored, & sliced thin
                      o 1 quart jar sauerkraut (good stuff … not canned)
                      o 1 1/2 cups white wine
                      o 10 juniper berries
                      o 6 black peppercorns (or 12 green)
                      o 2 bay leaves
                      o 1 Tbsp brown sugar

                      o Heat 6-8 quart pot (not iron or aluminum)
                      o Sauté bacon until clear
                      o Add onion and garlic; brown lightly
                      o Add apples, sauerkraut, and wine
                      o Add juniper berries, bay leaves, peppercorns, and brown sugar; stir
                      o Cook for 2 hours on medium-low heat; just simmering


                      • LangInGibsonia
                        LangInGibsonia commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Sounds delicious. I guarantee if you do that same thing to homemade 'kraut your head will explode! Haha!

                      • Jon Solberg
                        Jon Solberg commented
                        Editing a comment

                      The above recipe is something I reverse engineered from a dish my wife and I had while visiting Versailles, France quite a few years ago. They called it something like "Choucroute de Poissons". It was the above sauerkraut topped with gently steamed shrimp and white fish fillets over which was a very good white (bechamel) sauce. The white sauce was then topped with clams (mussels would work, too) that were braised in sherry then garnished with a bit of fresh parsley. We initially expected that sauerkraut and seafood might be a little weird ... so of course we ordered it and it was awesome! After much experimentation, I think that the reverse engineering effort was more than successful and we've enjoyed it at home many times since.

                      Here's the full recipe if any brave souls can convince themselves that seafood+sauerkraut makes sense:

                      Choucroute de Poissons (MBM)
                      Based on a restaurant dish served in Versailles

                      • Ingredients
                        • 4 slices bacon, diced
                        • 2 yellow onions
                        • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
                        • 2 apples, peeled, cored, & sliced thin
                        • 1 quart jar sauerkraut (good stuff … not canned)
                        • 1 1/2 cups white wine
                        • 10 juniper berries
                        • 6 black peppercorns (or 12 green)
                        • 2 bay leaves
                        • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
                      • Directions
                        • Heat 6-8 quart pot (not iron or aluminum)
                        • Sauté bacon until clear
                        • Add onion and garlic; brown lightly
                        • Add apples, sauerkraut, and wine
                        • Add juniper berries, bay leaves, peppercorns, and brown sugar; stir
                        • Cook for 2 hours on medium-low heat; just simmering
                      White Sauce
                      • Ingredients
                        • 2 cups milk
                        • 3 Tblsp chopped yellow onion
                        • 1 bay leaf
                        • Cayenne pepper or Tabasco (just a few shots) to taste
                        • 4 Tblsp butter, margarine, or 3 Tblsp olive oil
                        • 3 Tblsp flour
                        • Salt to taste
                      • Directions
                        • Bring milk to simmer
                        • Add onion, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper
                        • Simmer for a few minutes, then strain
                        • Return strained milk to stove
                        • In another pan, melt butter and stir in flour to make roux - don't brown
                        • Remove milk from heat and stir in roux
                        • Simmer, stirring, until thick (10 min)
                        • Add salt to taste
                      Steamed (Shell)Fish
                      • Ingredients
                        • Shrimp - several large ones per serving
                        • Fish filets - orange roughy or other white fish
                        • Salt, peppercorns, fresh parsley, herbs de Provence, white wine
                      • Directions
                        • Add peppercorns, garlic, wine to water, bring to boil
                        • Sprinkle (shell)fish with salt, parsley, herbs to taste
                        • Steam until just done - 5 minutes?
                      Clams Braised in Sherry
                      • Ingredients
                        • 3 slices bacon, diced
                        • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
                        • 3 or 4 clams or mussels per serving
                        • Salt & pepper to taste
                        • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sherry - enough to braise clams
                        • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
                      • Directions
                        • Sauté bacon until clear
                        • Add onion; brown lightly
                        • Add clams; toss to coat
                        • Add sherry (carefully); reduce by half … tossing occasionally to recoat
                        • Cover and steam until all clams are open
                        • Sprinkle on small amount of parsley; toss once more to distribute
                        • Remove from heat
                      To Serve
                      • Choucroute on plate or platter (pick out the bay leaves and peppercorns)
                      • Fish and shellfish over the choucroute
                      • White sauce over the fish and shellfish
                      • Clams over the sauce
                      • Fresh parsley on top as garnish


                        I used to love sauerkraut when I was a kid (many many moons ago) until I got sick on it and haven't touch it since.


                          Dr ROK I am using the .9 Gal crock shown in that link. It easily hold 5# of cabbage--I would guess it could hold 7.5# easily. I do 5 pound batches because it gives me time to get the next batch ready by the time the first batch is gone. I give my dogs a small spoonful every day - it is loaded with probiotic and supposed to be really good for a dogs short digestive system. Funny as hell-they come running when I open the kraut jar.


                          • Jon Solberg
                            Jon Solberg commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I had no idea it would be good for puppys. Cool!

                          A short article on probiotic benefits from ferments for your pets.



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