Cabbage

How to make saurekraut:
From The Practical Produce Cookbook by Ray and Elsie Hoover

Remove defective and coarse outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut away any spoiled or damaged spots. Rinse heads in cold water to remove dust or visible dirt particles. The bacteria needed to ferment the cabbage are found on the cabbage leaves.

Cut heads into halves or quarters and slice or shred the cabbage so that the shred is long and thin as possible. If you use a food processor, you may not get this characteristically desirable shred, but it will not affect the fermentation.

Weigh the cabbage. Place it in the container (crock or food grade plastic pail). For every 5 lbs. of cabbage, sprinkle with 3 tbsp. pure canning/pickling salt (use a non-iodized salt because iodine will prevent the bacterial fermentation necessary to change cabbage into sauerkraut). Mix well to distribute the salt uniformly. Allow the salted cabbage to stand a few minutes to wilt slightly. Then pound the cabbage firmly with a wooden tamper until enough juices are drawn out to cover the cabbage. Repeat this procedure, layer by layer, until the container is filled to the desired depth and the cabbage is completely covered with juice. Leave at least 4-5 inches between the cabbage and the top of the container.

A water-filled plastic bag is one of the easiest and best ways to both cover and weight down the cabbage. Be sure that you use a heavy-duty, watertight plastic bag that is intended for food use and is not colored. Fill the bag with water to a depth of 3-4 inches, allow the bag to completely cover the cabbage and tie securely.

As an alternative method, cover the cabbage with a clean cloth or clear plastic, fitting the covering snugly against the sides of the container. Then cover it with a wooden, china or other nonmetallic disc and place a weight on top. It is absolutely essential that you cover the cabbage and liquid to exclude air, since the fermentation process requires anaerobic conditions (without air).

Place the container of cabbage in a well-ventilated place with a relatively constant temperature. If kept at room temperature (68-72ºF), the kraut should be ready in three to four weeks. At higher temperatures, fermentation will proceed more rapidly and the kraut will be ready sooner. Similarly, if kept at temperatures lower than 68ºF, a slow fermentation will occur, but may be incomplete if the temperature drops below 60º. It is desirable to provide 68-72ºF temperature during the first several days in order to begin production of the acid which will preserve the cabbage. Then, if desired, the container could be stored in a cooler area (basement, unheated garage, etc.) if you want a slower fermentation. If the temperature drops below freezing, fermentation will stop, but will start again when the temperature rises into a favorable range.

Check the container daily. During the fermentation, film yeasts or molds may form on the surface of the liquid. If they appear, skim them off. If any discoloration appears within the top inch of kraut, remove it. If you are using a cloth covering, rinse or replace it each time you remove scum or spoiled cabbage.

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How to can sauerkraut
From The Practical Produce Cookbook by Ray and Elsie Hoover

Heat well-fermented saurekraut and liquid to simmering (185-200ºF). Do not boil. Pack hot kraut into clean, hot canning jars to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Cover with hot juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. (If there is insufficient sauerkraut juice to cover all the kraut in the jars, use a boiling hot, weak brine that contains 2 tbsp. salt for each quart of water). Process in the boiling water bath canner 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Star to count processing time as soon as the hot jars are placed in actively boiling water.

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How to freeze saurekraut
Pack kraut and juice in rigid plastic moisture-vapor proof freezer containers, glass freezer jars (leaving at least 1 1/2 inches headspace), or in  heavy, tightly sealed plastic freezer bags. Freeze.

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