Jamie’s Fizzy Kraut Made in A Crock
Sauerkraut is cabbage and salt, that’s really all it is.
So the very first thing that you do is get yourself the best cabbage that money can buy and you slice it. I like to have mine in nice, thin slices but it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is you just have to cut it up any way that you want it. Then you need to put it in a reservoir like a large bowl or a bucket.
The other ingredient is salt. And again, when you only have two ingredients you need to get the very best that money can buy. I like coarse Celtic salt, so this is what I use with my cabbage.
So I take the shredded cabbage, I put the salt in, and I do it the lazy way: I just put the salt over it and let it start to weep. And I could let it sit even a full day. usually I do it in the morning and by the evening time I start giving it a good whack with my log.
I put salt over cabbage just as if you were to put it over cucumbers or onions or anything like that, it draws the juices out. And these juices are critical mass because you have to have that liquid over the top to keep everything submerged underneath that liquid.
Now you can add salt water if you want to, but this is the traditional way of doing it. You don’t absolutely have to do that. So what happens is, after a day long of sitting and weeping, you begin to crush it.
My indicator that it’s ready to go is I shove my fist into the center, you can see the liquid coming up on the side. When I shove my hand in the center, if that liquid comes up an inch to the sides, that tells me that I’m ready to put it inside the kraut crock.
Once you get your cabbage and your salt together, beat it up real good so it’s juicy, the last step is to put it in the crock. The crock that I use has a lip around the top, a nice deep moat in which we’re going to put water in when we’re done stuffing this. And what happens is, when the gases try to escape, they escape through this little tiny hole which is underwater.
So you’re going to keep everything underneath water and no extra air is going to come in there because air is not your friend.
We take the cabbage which we have beat up, and it’s juicy, and we just throw it into the bottom of the crock. Note: Do not wash your crock with anti-bacterial anything, ever, for any reason. Because we’re trying to get bacteria flowing here and we don’t want to discourage that. So, if you just washed it with plain soap and water, washed it real well, rinsed it real well, dried it out real well that would be the way to go.
So we press the kraut into the bottom of the crock. And the way that you know that you’ve got it just the way you need it, is when the juice comes up over your hand. So you start pressing it in, doesn’t take long at all, if you’ve done your work ahead of time. And I use my knuckles to press it down against the side and as I do I can feel the juice starting to slop up over my knuckles.
The other thing that you are doing at the same time is trying to make sure that all the small pieces of cabbage, this is why I don’t dice my cabbage, all the small pieces of cabbage are tucked under.
You’ll notice when I cut the cabbage that I left the outside pieces. I did that intentionally. The larger outside pieces, I like to think of them as a bed sheet. You just tuck these into the edges so that nothing comes up but the liquid. Because anything that is going to be outside of that water is fair game to mold.
So, you’re not going to do a perfect job but you do the best you can. Tucking it into the sides is what’s going to serve you well.
So now we take the crock stones — and again, do not wash these with soap at all. This is stone, it is porous, so it’s going to take in anything you wash it with. So if you’re concerned about whether there is anything on there that you don’t want on there, you bake it off. I put it in the oven, whenever I’m cooking dinner I would put it in there to make sure that it has been cooked off. About 350 degrees. And then I use them, that way there is nothing that is going to be bothersome.
The crock stones fit like a little jigsaw puzzle down inside your crock. You press it down to make sure that the liquid is coming up over the top. Take your lid, put it on top, and then fill your moat with water.
The water does evaporate and you do have to check it from time to time. You’ll hear a happy little gurgling sound.
I’m happy, it’s happy, everybody is happy. It’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. And if you keep it in a cool spot, it tends to ferment at a pace that is healthy. You don’t want it too hot. So I keep it in a place where I can keep an eye on it, out of the way so it’s not, because it’s going to be there for a long time. So I try to keep it out of the way.
The shortest amount of time that I’ve let it ferment is two weeks. But you can leave it in there indefinitely. I have a friend who keeps these in her basement, she has a large family, lots of kids, so if she brings up the entire kraut crock, and serves out of the crock and then takes it right back down so she never really takes it out. Because I know a lot of ladies will take that out and put it into jars.
What I like to do is wait a good six weeks, and then I remove it, I put it into glass jars and I keep it in the refrigerator. You want to make sure all kraut is submerged in the liquid to prevent it from spoiling or molding.