Well, the 2018 growing season is nearing its end. We are suppose to get frost later this week, so we brought in what was left of our delicate vegetables from the garden. All we have left for this season is Lacinato kale, pie pumpkins, Delicata squash, a few heirloom tomatoes, and of course, potatoes such as purple and sweet potatoes. Oh…and about 4 of our very sweet, tasty cabbages that were a big hit for making sauerkraut and coleslaw this year. One customer even told us, “That was the sweetest, crispiest, best cabbage I have ever had. And the best batch of kraut I ever made too.”
We had a couple record-breakers as well this year. One cabbage weighed in at 10 pounds and another at 9 pounds!
Apple season is about done as well. The only apple variety we have left that didn’t make it into this year’s cider batch is Macintosh. If you are still looking for some good pie apples before they are completely gone, we have just a couple bushels of the Macs left.
Cider is going fast. We also only have a few half gallon jugs of soft cider left. We will have some pasteurized cider for over the winter, which does not taste nearly as good as our fresh French-Style cider, but it’s a good second especially for hot cider on a bone-chilling winter day.
Photo: As one person said about the above cabbage photo: “That’s just obscene.” lol
Tips on Making the BEST Homemade Sauerkraut:
BEFORE YOU START
- Sauerkraut is prepared entirely in a brining crock. Don’t worry about going out and buying an expensive stoneware crock—”crocks” can be any unchipped enamel pot or large glass jar. The gallon, wide-mouth jars that restaurants use to buy pickles in work beautifully.
- If you have an old crock you want to use, don’t use it if there is a white film on the inside that disappears when wet and reappears upon drying. That crock has been used for waterglassing (preserving) eggs; there is no way to remove it and it will ruin your sauerkraut.
- The old jingle “A hand in the pot spoils the lot” is completely true. Keep your hands, and any metal object, out of the crock. Use wooden spoons and mashers and glass or crockery for dipping and weighting.
- The best and freshest ingredients will yield the best sauerkraut. You can make relish with your old, tough cabbage, but use your young, fresh, tender cabbage for your sauerkraut.
- For a 1-gallon container, core and shred 5 pounds of cabbage. Measure out 3 tablespoons of pickling (or kosher or dairy) salt.
- Alternate layers of cabbage with a sprinkling of salt, tapping each layer with a wooden spoon or potato masher. The top layer should be salt. This will not seem like it’s enough salt, but it will give you a 2 ½ percent solution, the perfect strength for fermentation.
- Boil an old dish towel or piece of sheeting for 5 minutes and cover the crock with it. Weight this down with a flat plate the size of the inside of the crock and weight it down with a canning jar full of water. If you’re using a glass jar, you won’t need to weight it down. Let it sit for a day.
- If you used fresh and tender cabbage, by the next day you should have enough brine to cover the cabbage. If you don’t, make more brine by adding 1 ½ teaspoons salt to a cup of water and add enough to cover.
- In 2 or 3 days, white scum will form on the top. Skim this off, replace the cloth with a newly boiled one, wash the plate, and replace it all. Repeat this skimming (a 5-minute job) each day until the bubbles stop rising, or for about 2 weeks. Then your sauerkraut is done!
- At this point, simply keep the cabbage below the brine with the plate, cover the crock tightly, and store at 40°F to 50°F. If your cellar isn’t that cool, heat the sauerkraut just to simmering, pack in canning jars, seal, and process in a water bath 20 minutes for quarts, 15 minutes for pints.