First, let me apologize for not updating the blog lately. My old version (5.5) of Adobe PhotoShop finally crapped out on me. Since I take all of my images in magazine print quality, I need to significantly reduce their size and resolution prior to posting online. After debating about spending the cash to upgrade, I decided to check out some open source options and have finally settled on GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). So I'm back online with appropriately scaled images. Enjoy!
Anyone seeing cabbage and crocks in central Pennsylvania in the fall knows that it's Sauerkraut-making time! I stopped by a local farm with a gorgeous crop of cabbages and picked up a dozen large heads which weighted around twelve pounds each.
My kraut-making buddy is Tom and since he's got all the equipment--a special grater from Austria, no less--we do the deed at his place. Prior to starting this batch, we polished off the last quart of the last batch with some of my bratwurst.
The recipe is basically two tablespoons of sea salt to two pounds of cabbage. After grating a bowlful, Tom measured out the cabbage, put it in the crock and added salt. This was repeated until the crock was about two thirds full. Since Tom has to carry the five-gallon ceramic crocks down the narrow stairs into his basement and back up the stairs when we are ready to can the finished kraut, he doesn't fill them to the top.
So, what do I get to do other than offer some relief to the hours upon hours of grating cabbage? My job was to cover the wooden disks that will weight down the cabbage in the brine with paraffin wax.
When all the crocks were filled, we covered the shredded cabbage, which was already expelling copious amounts of liquid, with the large, outer cabbage leaves. Next, clean tea towels where wetted with the cabbage juice and laid on top of the large leaves. This helps collect the slime molds that form on the surface during the fermentation process. The waxed disks are placed on top to help weight down the cabbage in the brine.
The final step is setting some type of weight on top of the waxed disks to keep the cabbage pushed down into the brine. Tom used empty jug wine bottles filled with water as weights and no, he didn't drink all that cheap wine. Tom has much better taste when it comes to wine. It's true. Check out his blog where he writes about Pennsylvania Wineries. Our final tally--112 pounds of cabbage fermenting in three 5-gallon crocks and one 3-gallon crock.