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An Old Time Recipe for Home Made Sauerkraut, Using Cabbage from your Garden or from the Farmers' Market

Updated on December 1, 2013

The Finished Product

Source of my 'old' recipes

In another hub, I explained about my mother's bride's chest and the recipes it contained. She was born in 1895 so her recipes probably are from 1910 upwards in time ... that is, unless some originated from her mother's or grandmother's cache. In those days girls began collecting recipes in the very early teens.

I do know that she had many filed away in her memory and not written down. I managed to acquire some of those unwritten ones and put them in writing. This sauerkraut is one of those. Sometimes, I also helped make it so remember how the kraut was made.

Prior to making the sauerkraut

Please read through the recipe before starting. I know I tend to sometimes just look at the ingredients and assemble those right off but that's not always wise.

Conditions were different in the early 1900s into the 1950s, sometimes safer, sometimes not. We knew to frequently wash our hands and working areas when preparing food. We knew that a pressure cooker had to be used when canning green beans and some other vegetables. At that time, however, we did not think about what our well water might contain even though it did not make us sick. When growing up we boiled our water for some things but not for drinking, which seems odd thinking back. In my hubs 'Adventures in Cheese Making' and 'What I Love About Colorado Cooking!', I talked about use of water in cheese making and sourdough starter .... partly because of the bacteria the water might contain and also because of naturally occurring minerals and some additives for purification that might have an effect on the product.

Shredded cabbage
Shredded cabbage | Source
Crock jar for the sauerkraut -- it has straight sides
Crock jar for the sauerkraut -- it has straight sides | Source
After two days, checked the progress and stir with the nonmetal utensil.  The plate covered the kraut and the glass vase filled with marbles was the weight.
After two days, checked the progress and stir with the nonmetal utensil. The plate covered the kraut and the glass vase filled with marbles was the weight.

Making the sauerkraut

To make your first batch, start with one medium size fresh green cabbage. Peel off any wilted or tough outer leaves and remove the core along with the very thick white veins that surround the core. It is easier to rinse and drain the shredded cabbage later.

You will need a one and a half to two gallon straight-sided crock jar or similar container. Pyrex will work also but not anything metal. Wash the container thoroughly!

Because my mother did it that way, I sometimes use a kraut cutter or slice it thinly with a knife on a cutting board. There are lots of small appliances people have on hand and these work well also. I prefer not to buy a utensil or appliance until I know if I want to make that product again unless it can be used for something else.

If you have not already washed the intact cabbage head, rinse the cut cabbage and drain it thoroughly. Measure out 1-1/2 tablespoons salt -- any salt without iodine -- can be kosher, sea salt, or other canning salt.

Place a layer of the shredded cabbage in the jar, add some salt over that. Don't obsess over getting the exact same amount of salt in each layer. I used a half teaspoon to have an amount that was about the same. Continue layering the cabbage and salt but end with salt on top. Weight the mixture down with a clean plate ... I use an old Pyrex one but a heavy glass will do as well. Weight the plate down with some clean heavy item. A brick or two would work well or stones. I've used a plastic bucket or heavy vase full of marbles. Check on the jar to make sure that liquid doesn't spill over the plate. It shouldn't but one never knows.

Keep the kraut in a cool room. I usually put it in an unused bedroom, which stays between 50 and 65 degrees. If you have bears or other animals looking for food, closing any open windows in the room at night should keep the food odors inside.

After a couple of days, check to make sure the cabbage still looks good and stir it around with a non-metal utensil. If the cabbage is not covered with liquid, pour some boiled, then cooled, salt water to cover. The amounts needed for this are 1/2 cup bottled water to 1/2 teaspoon salt. Replace the weighted items and continue with the fermentation process. If the room temperature is near 70 degrees, fermentation will be quicker (2 or 3 weeks) but at a lower temperature, it could take 4 or 5 weeks. Keep stirring the cabbage every 2 days during this time. The process is finished when bubbles have stopped rising to the surface of what now should be sauerkraut, about 1 quart total. If the flavor is not brisk enough for you, let it ferment a day or two longer, again depending on the room temperature.

Store in the refrigerator in a non-metal container or two if necessary -- can use food-grade plastic, glass, or pyrex. In the interest of my compulsive behavior regarding food safety, boiling ten minutes before eating it is recommended.

I hope you enjoy your homemade sauerkraut!.

  • If you are not sure you will enjoy making your own kraut, use the bowls and utensils you have in your kitchen for the first batch. Below are some examples. Later you can decide just the items that work best for you.

Phenix Cheese Company ad


More trivia about food and food products ... OR ... ubi sunt?

I am learning so much since adding a paragraph about food products and/or brands that have come and gone. This is as a result of inventorying my old cookbooks. Pamphlets published by different companies have been stuck inside of these books and there were packets of them in file folders. I found one advertising the Phenix Cheese Company, looked up this company, and learned that it manufactured Philadelphia Cream Cheese. In 1928, Kraft purchased the Phenix company and, for some time, the 'new' company was called Kraft-Phenix Cheese Company. In reading about Phenix, I thought about how hair is French braided ... just take a strand of Phenix, gather up Lender Bagels, twist in some Celestial Seasonings, snatch a piece of Dominion Dairies, snip off that company that does not work, and so on until at last, from the outside, it looks neat and tidy ... until it all unravels again.

I hope you enjoy the trivia paragraphs!


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    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      I've never made sauerkraut, but I love it. Thanks for the recipe

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 5 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Thanks so much for your comment. It's been fun to try my mother's recipes. There are some that I only remember the basics of and still trying to duplicate but no luck so far.

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      Great recipe. My mother was born in 1895 and her best friend was named Bertha (everyone just called her Buddy instead). my mother used to make sauerkraut when I was little but she didn't leave any recipes. The reason that you don't have to boil water for drinking is because the acids in you stomach take care of a lot.