Monday, March 16, 2015

The 3-Gallon Sauerkraut Crock

I can't believe it has taken me this long to tell you about my favorite Christmas present:  my dad got me a 3-gallon crock to make sauerkraut and about 8 huge heads of cabbage from my uncle's farm.  Dad definitely gets the dad-of-the-year award for this one!



On December 26, Dad dropped off the cabbages and the Amish-made slicer he had borrowed from my uncle for me.  My husband and I shredded and shredded until we had enough cabbage to mostly fill the crock.  He even got out the food processor to see if it was faster than the hand shredder (which looked something like this).  Nope, the shredder was faster; I need to cast around for a shredder to borrow or buy next fall.  I can't recall how many heads of cabbage we used to fill the crock, but I know we gave several heads away to church friends.


Then, in four weeks, we tasted the sauerkraut.  It was absolutely delicious, better than any storebought stuff or even my previous batches of homemade.  I think it was better because I used my meat mallet to really pound the cabbage into the crock.

In earlier batches, I was using a glass jar for the fermentation, so I was much gentler in the pounding and pushing because the mouth of the jar restricted my movement and also I didn't want to break the jar.  With the crock, I didn't need to add any extra liquid because I so successfully pounded the cabbage that it was covered with its own liquid by the time I put the plate and the heavy water-filled jar on top.


So I've been fetching the sauerkraut up to the fridge, a half-gallon jar at a time.  We often eat it just straight, it's so delicious, but I've also done the typical pork-and-sauerkraut, a slaw, and lots of vegetarian Reubens.


Next winter, I'm definitely starting the process in the fall so we have all winter to eat our way through the crock; the cool basement preserves it well.  We've got about a half-gallon left yet, but spring is starting to nose its way in, and sauerkraut is winter food in my opinion, so we've got some eating to do.

17 comments:

Jennifer Jo said...

It looks delicious!

sk said...

Amen.

BLD in MT said...

I was recently told to try sauerkraut on pizza by a friend. Have you ever tried that? I was initially skeptical of the idea, but the way she described it sounded interesting. I might have a go at it.

Margo said...

BLD, I heard of a variation on pizza: sauerkraut and sausage and something else which I now forget. But it didn't include the typical tomato sauce and cheese. I might have to experiment!

Tammy said...

That's wonderful!

My husband gave me a 3-gallon crock for Christmas. I've yet to use it it though. I think of all the time it would take to fill! Unlike you I wasn't quite as thrilled with my gift (mostly because he gave me that, the weights to go inside it, and a kitchen timer; romantic, eh? ;-) )

Jan said...

Your Dad knows you well... useful presents are always the nicest. Jx

jenny_o said...

Oh, it sounds so good!

I boarded with a retired dietitian one summer, and she served a side dish of sauerkraut about once a week. It makes a fine summer dish, too :)

What a thoughtful gift from your dad.

Rebecca said...

My folks have a dedicated sauerkraut "stomper", they call it. Picture a mallet head turned on its side with a long handle coming out of its small end. You can stand upright and pound away. A nice addition to the Honey-Do list?

Margo said...

Jenny_o, I like the idea of a summer side dish. Was the sauerkraut simply served cold or room temperature, nothing else added? I'm intrigued. We do love to eat it right out of the jar. . .

Rebecca, I have heard of "cabbage stompers" in PA Dutch - I wonder if that's the sort of tool that you are talking about? It sure sounds handy.

jenny_o said...

Margo, she served the sauerkraut plain, in a custard cup, at the side of the plate - cold or room temperature, depending on how quickly I walked home from work on my lunch hour! We always ate our main meal at lunchtime.

Side note, she was a terrific cook; I was always a skinny thing in those days but gained ten pounds that summer from her wonderful cooking - which I lost as soon as I returned to university meals :)

Lisa said...

I tried making sauerkraut once; I guess I didn't have the strength the pound the liquid out of it. It was really more than I could do - getting enough juice to actually cover the cabbage seemed impossible!

Anna said...

Looks incredible! And that crock ... oh, it's a beauty!

Nancy po said...

Nice! I'll be making some next week in my smaller fermenting jar. I did some pounding in a 1/2 gallon canning jar, worked great with a french rolling pin :)

oukay said...

I have lots of crocks that were my great-grandmother's. Do you think that most of the really old crockery is safe for things like sauerkraut? So far I just use them as cache pots for plants. Thanks

Margo said...

Oukay, I would probably use an old crock if it wasn't chipped or cracked - BUT I haven't done any research to see if the old glazes and pottery used substances that we now consider unsafe. I'd do some research and I probably wouldn't start with Google, which will give the worst-case scenario and hair-raising stories. I'd ask potters or antiques experts or use a reputable web source. And then I would probably hedge my bets :)

Peascod said...

I just wandered over to discover your delightful blog via Rhonda at Down to Earth. I have spent all evening reading bits and pieces of your blog.

I am most excited about this post. I love sauerkraut and have inherited my gram's pickle crocks. I have wanted to use them but didn't know how...most of the recipes for kraut on the net use complicated vented lids etc. I just wanted to use her crocks, but couldn't wrap my head around it. So now I know. Thanks for your post on making Kraut using the old fashioned crocks

Margo said...

Peascod, welcome! and thank you. I hope your sauerkraut turns out great.

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