Saturday, July 09, 2011


In late May I ordered a 2 gallon stoneware crock with the intention of making sauerkraut. I figured that even if the kraut didn't work, cabbage was cheap and I could use the crock for some decorative purpose.

Well the crock arrived (including wooden "lid") and I sliced up my organic cabbages as thinly as I could and recruited Ken to help me pound it a bit as we layered it into the crock and sprinkled with sea salt. Moisture from the cabbages came out, just as promised. I topped it off with an extra cup of salt water just to be safe. We put the wooden lid in which is supposed to work like a press and push the cabbage down and keep it under the brine. On top of that I put a gallon plastic bag filled with water and put the whole thing on the floor under the air conditioner (the coolest spot we could find). To keep the kittens out of it (and flies) I laid a wooden cutting board over the whole thing.

In about three days, the kraut started to bubble. It bubbled so much, in fact, that it spilled out of the crock! I cleaned up that mess and then put the crock on top of some old paper grocery bags. About every three days for the next two weeks, it would bubble over. The third week there appeared to be no bubbling and I opened the crock and pulled out a little kraut.

Well, I say "I opened the crock"... lesson learned here... the wooden lid expanded in the brine. So much so, it took Ken some good force and ingenuity to get the lid out. But he did manage to remove it.

It was good! Really good. But I wanted it to be really, really done.

Ken refused to taste it raw (his loss), but we sealed it all up again for another week.

Finally, I could not wait anymore and reopened the crock. We filled five sterile quart jars with kraut and I had a little left over for me to eat on a turkey reuben that night. Yummy! I hot water processed (with some reluctance because I know that the canning kills the beneficial bacteria) for 10 minutes. This sealed the jars and we left them out on the counter for a week to make sure the fermentation was, in fact, complete.

Sadly, we also discovered that the wooden "lid" had expanded so much that it cracked my two gallon crock! Damn! So, today I ordered a new one.

The cracked one will do well for one gallon batches of things like dill pickles or other ferments larger than a quart but smaller than a gallon.

We will skip using the wooden "lid".

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