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Thread: Any Kraut fermenters in the crowd?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    Any Kraut fermenters in the crowd?

    My ancestry is primarily German. I have loved Sauerkraut since I was a kid. We'd have hotdogs and sauerkraut over mashed potatoes about once a week...it was inexpensive and we all loved it.

    New Year's tradition for our family has always been a pork roast with Sauerkraut slow cooked for at least 6 hours...again served with mashed.

    Anyway...recently, I got the idea to make my own. I bought a 1.3gal crock and have been fermenting for 3ish weeks. Right from the word go, my kraut turned out great. The secret...is the salt to cabbage ratio. weigh the cabbage...then add 2% pure salt to this...do NOT use iodized table salt...I use canning/pickling salt.

    My latest batch is made with carroway seeds....I added 2 teaspoons of seeds per cabbage head (I use three head for my pot)

    Question...I have a water seal crock (lid) I put it up in a relatively stable environment ~66-68* 24hours a day. Only at night though, my pot will suck in the water from the water seal. It hasn't been a huge problem for my ferment...but I have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't suck in air and bacteria. Does anyone know how to avoid this suction effect...or what causes it? It doesn't seem to be barometric pressure or temperature related.

    Do any of you guys make your own kraut? I'd like to hear your experiences (good and bad)...

    redhawk

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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Wag's Avatar
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    My mother used to make kraut all the time and it was absolutely the best. I tried my hand at it a few times and only just last year, finally got it right and it was truly amazing.

    Your post reminds me that I need to whip up some more.

    --Wag--
    "Great genius will always encounter fierce opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    I ferment cucumber pickles. I use a large mouth jar, a smaller jam jar full of water as a weight, and a plastic bag and a rubber band. I use a straw to suck out as much air as possible. I’ve only had mold in one jar, it was on some chili flakes on the salt water surface.

    My method is imperfect but it’s cheap and it works. The bags do inflate with the fermented gas.

    Is your crock exposed to sunlight? If so it may be temperature that is causing your suction.

    JM

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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I make my own Sauerkraut. I don't use a airlock, as it's not necessary and as you have found can be a hindrance.

    I use an old timey traditional recipe with only cabbage and salt. I believe it's 5lbs of shredded cabbage to 3 TBLSP canning salt??? I'd have to look it up to be sure. I've tried adding adjuncts, but I didn't like the results and have become a purist, and like it without spices or additions.

    I ferment in a DIY double bucket system for 6 weeks, sometimes I forget about it and it remains in the bucket for a few extra weeks, that doesn't seem to effect quality. I put the shredded cabbage/salt mix in one bucket, pack it, then I layer the top with a few of the large outer leaves of the cabbage, pack it again, then I put a 2nd "cleaned" matching bucket on top of that, I add water to the 2nd bucket for weight.

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I see what your doing there for a crock...that looks good. And your purist recipe sounds like mine...that must be 2%. I use about 4T for 8 lbs. Maybe one of these batches I'll let go longer than 3 weeks.

    Anyway...I like the "plain" recipe the best as well...but the batch I just pulled out with the carroway seeds is really good. It will go very well with samiches. It has a nice "rye" flavor and it smells like a deli when you crack open the pot.

    redhawk

    The only stupid question...is the unasked one.
    Not all who wander....are lost.
    "Common Sense" is like a flower. It doesn't grow in everyone's garden.

    If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question. - Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
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    I have a Very Interesting way I do it recently... in small batches: since I'm on a low sodium diet I have to cut back on the salt!

    Chop up the cabbage as fine as you can and place in to a bowl & layer with about 1/3 canning salt each layer ( this is a lot less salt the normal)
    Mix it all up and let it sit a few hours.....Then start crushing it up with your hands to bruise it The excess water will be in the bottom of the bowl Tranfer to another bowl squeezing out the excess water....... Then the secret of low sodium fermenting is to add about 1/4 cup of the whey "liquid" off Greek low fat unflavored yogurt! ( best to start saving this up a few days before so you get enough) mix this all together well This is sort of a starter that lets you get away with lower salt.
    And pack tight in to sterilized quart mason jars leave about 1/2 inch of space on to and cover with a dish with a bit of weight to it and place the jars in a pan to collect the excess liquid from fermentation. Then place in a dark basement at about 60-65 deg
    In about 3 to 4 weeks you will have jars of low sodium lacto-fermented Saurekraut. At that point clean up the jars and place caps on them and store in the refridge! I have had them stored 6 months with out any issues. The longer the ferment time the more "sauer the kraut"
    this match what my Mon and Dad did in the crock with much less sodium!
    I have actually made batches of only 1 qt at a time from small heads of Cabbage. When I get close to finishing one I ferment another
    " Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation: for it is better to be alone than in bad company. " George Washington

  7. #7
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    Of Czechoslovak (Bohemian) ancestry -- both sides -- our traditional every-Sunday dinner was pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut (pečené vepřové s knedlíky a se zelím). The sauerkraut -- homemade with lots of caraway seeds -- called Dušené Kyselé Zelí in Czech -- makes my mouth water in memories of it. The kmin -- caraway -- had an affinity to getting stuck between my teeth, too .
    Grandparents made it in a stone crock, with large grape leaves as the cover, and a flat rock to hold it all submerged. The top layer looked pretty nasty, if I recall -- but the sauerkraut underneath -- "was to kill for!"
    A mail order outfit in Ohio's Amish country was started by Galen Lehman, and they purvey all sorts of goodies for home made sauerkraut should you have interest. (I buy parts from my Aladdin lamps from them) Their URL is https://www.lehmans.com/search?w=saurkraut
    BEST!
    geo

  8. #8
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    JWFilips's Avatar
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    My Parents were of polish decent: The basement always contained a crock of Sauerkraut....but My mom never added the caraway seed until she cooked with it ; such as "saurkraut and butts" ! Never figured out what part of the pig, "butts" came from but I sure had a good guess!
    " Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation: for it is better to be alone than in bad company. " George Washington

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    before you all start picking on me you should know, my feet were meticulously cleaned. no toes were injured during the making of this video, and the kraut was incredible!!!!



    have a great day... Let the ridicule begin
    Any technology not understood, can seem like Magic!!!

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    I've had a couple of batches that didn't turn out as well as they should. Never had an issue with relatively fresh cabbage. When I wait for the Saint Patrick day low prices on cabbage some of the cabbage seems to be drier than fresher heads. I've only had issues with cabbage on the drier side.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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    If your airlock style crock is pulling in water your temps are not stable... s temps drop a vacuum forms inside the crock pulling water from the moat around the lid. I use salt water in the moat, keeps bacteria at bay! Never had a problem with it ruining the kraut. If you get a little mold on top just skim it off!

    I make a lot of St Louis style spare ribs in summer and have a lot of rib tips I trim off. I freeze them and make a big roaster full of them with kraut in winter. Cook until the meat falls off, shred it, mix with kraut and some of the liquid, use a little instant mashed potato to thicken it. Serve over mashed potato with lots of butter. No this is not a healthy meal!

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Growing up I was the kraut leveler and smasher in the big crocks for my Grandparents.
    LOL I was just the right height to stand on the floor with the big crock on a chair, while Grandma would put the mix in.
    Then I would knead the mix flat and hard.
    Grandpa would slice, and add salt, and mix
    Was a great time I remember growing up with.

    Grandma had these old plates she kept that were JUST the correct diameter to sit on top of the kraut to act as the seal, then a couple of bricks went on top of the plate to keep things firmly in place.
    Mind you they made at least two 5 gal crocks of kraut at a time
    That was 50 years ago

    A few years ago the wife and I started making kraut.
    The first couple of years we used 5 tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, that turned out a bit too salty for me.
    Then we started using 3 tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, and that was much better more along what I remember, and the proof was my Mother agreed.
    Takes a few more weeks to ferment that with less salt, but tasted better I think

    To seal the crock we use a large 3 gallon zip bag, mostly filled with water to keep the air out and seal the top of the crock
    Once a week remove the zip lock bag,and clean any mold, rinse the bag and redo it for another week.
    The wife keeps an cloth over the top of the crock to also keep and house flies out
    When the kraut ready, have the pint jars ready and water bath them to seal.

    Have fun and enjoy

    J Wisner

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    Keep it simple. Cabbage, salt. Place in crock in layers. Have a lid that fits inside of your crock, I use one made from a white oak board but a dinner plate will work fine. Place a limestone rock on top of your lid, twice the size of your fist (5-6 pounds). I keep mine in the basement but any cool place will work. Cover it with a cheesecloth to keep dust/insects out. Three month wait, scrape off the mold and try it, may require more ageing depending on taste preference. You can continue to store it in the crock, but you will lose some to mold that forms on the top.
    Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

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    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryB View Post
    If your airlock style crock is pulling in water your temps are not stable... s temps drop a vacuum forms inside the crock pulling water from the moat around the lid. I use salt water in the moat, keeps bacteria at bay! Never had a problem with it ruining the kraut. If you get a little mold on top just skim it off!
    Any suggestions for making the temp stable? Do you think putting my crock in an old coleman cooler with the lid shut would help?

    I appreciate your reply on this....BTW...I've not had any moat water ruin my kraut either....its just frustrating to have to keep filling it every day or two to keep the level up. My last batch I actually cracked it open after 2 weeks and pulled out 2 cups of liquid off the top with a turkey baster. (I figured any fresh water would float over the salt water due to salt water being heavier) I use ceramic weights in my crock to keep the cabbage/kraut below the brine level. After removing 2 cups I still had 1" of liquid above my weights. I only ferment for 3 weeks...and I don't get any mold. I may try the coleman cooler idea and see what happens. This time of year my cellar is only 40*...so putting fermentation crocks down there isn't gonna happen. I have been keeping it in our living space. We keep the house between 65-68 during the winter months. I thought that would be stable enough...I guess I'm wrong.

    redhawk
    Last edited by redhawk0; 03-01-2020 at 09:52 AM.

    The only stupid question...is the unasked one.
    Not all who wander....are lost.
    "Common Sense" is like a flower. It doesn't grow in everyone's garden.

    If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question. - Ronald Reagan

  15. #15
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markopolo View Post
    before you all start picking on me you should know, my feet were meticulously cleaned. no toes were injured during the making of this video, and the kraut was incredible!!!!



    have a great day... Let the ridicule begin

    No ridicule...I like it...but due to some toe nail issues...that's not an option for me. (maybe it would cure it...who knows...hahaha)

    I couldn't get my size 12 in my 1.3 gal pot anyway....but I do tamp it down with a wooden kraut masher. I beat the crap out of it.

    I use a manoline to slice my cabbage to the thickness of a nickel/quarter...then weigh and add 2% salt...then using my hands I kneed and mix for 10 minutes and pack in the crock then mash it down with the wooden masher....then repeat this process with the next cabbage head. It takes about an hour to do the 3 heads of cabbage...but doing it this way I get a very consistent batch of kraut layers.

    Once its all mashed into the crock...I add my ceramic weights...and push down until I get 1" of liquid above my weights. I then put on the lid and add water to the moat for the water-lock.

    It works for me...except I get the moat level instability over the life of my fermentation.

    redhawk

    The only stupid question...is the unasked one.
    Not all who wander....are lost.
    "Common Sense" is like a flower. It doesn't grow in everyone's garden.

    If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question. - Ronald Reagan

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy dpoe001's Avatar
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    Growing up my parents canned everything. Sauerkraut was done with 4 of the big crocks on the kitchen counters.With seven kids nothing was done in small batches, all of my moms recipes call for large amounts of ingredients. I amstill trying to figure out how to make smaller batches of most of her recipes.

  17. #17
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redhawk0 View Post
    SNIP...

    My last batch I actually cracked it open after 2 weeks and pulled out 2 cups of liquid off the top with a turkey baster. (I figured any fresh water would float over the salt water due to salt water being heavier)
    Redhawk,
    Fresh water will blend in with the "salt water/lactic acid brine" almost instantly. So there would be no fresh water floating on top.

    Again, I'll say you don't need an airlock, but if you still feel the need to use one, just use some of the brine in it.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by redhawk0 View Post
    Any suggestions for making the temp stable? Do you think putting my crock in an old coleman cooler with the lid shut would help?

    I appreciate your reply on this....BTW...I've not had any moat water ruin my kraut either....its just frustrating to have to keep filling it every day or two to keep the level up. My last batch I actually cracked it open after 2 weeks and pulled out 2 cups of liquid off the top with a turkey baster. (I figured any fresh water would float over the salt water due to salt water being heavier) I use ceramic weights in my crock to keep the cabbage/kraut below the brine level. After removing 2 cups I still had 1" of liquid above my weights. I only ferment for 3 weeks...and I don't get any mold. I may try the coleman cooler idea and see what happens. This time of year my cellar is only 40*...so putting fermentation crocks down there isn't gonna happen. I have been keeping it in our living space. We keep the house between 65-68 during the winter months. I thought that would be stable enough...I guess I'm wrong.

    redhawk
    If you have the crocks on the floor the temp swings could be really high, try setting them on a shelf or on top of the cooler so they don't have cold floor against the bottom of the crock. In a cooler may not work, fermentation does give off heat...

  19. #19
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I've been setting my pot about 36" off the floor on a book shelf. (fancy shmancy huh?)

    I'll try a few things with the next batch...I'll figure it out. I always do.... my cooler is a 70 quart model...so it's pretty big. I wouldn't expect much heat build up with that much volume.

    I may siphon off some brine...or just make some salt water for the moat. Like I said...it doesn't effect my ferment...just annoying that I have to monitor it every day.

    I appreciate the ideas.

    redhawk

    The only stupid question...is the unasked one.
    Not all who wander....are lost.
    "Common Sense" is like a flower. It doesn't grow in everyone's garden.

    If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question. - Ronald Reagan

  20. #20
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    My parents started making sauerkraut when I was about 19. Dad was from Blanco, Tx and many of the people around there were of German descent. At the start of the Depression, he worked for a Bohemian farmer for a year for room and board. The farmer had caught him sleeping in one of his haystacks LOL and offered him the job. I've made 1,000s of pounds of that stuff. Like the OP, we always used Caraway seeds. JonB's recipe is the one we always used. 5 lb shredded cabbage, 3 TBSP salt. I shred mine 5# at a time and using a stainless steel bowl, toss with salt. Put a layer in the crock (Dad's old 8 gallon), sprinkle 3 TBSP Caraway seeds on layer, repeat. I use an old baseball bat with a clean kitchen trash bag over it as the stomper. At the end, I'll take another trash bag, put 2 gallons of water in it and tie it off with an overhand knot. Put that into another one, tie it off. Place a large plate over the kraut, making sure not to trap air under it. Weight it down with your preferred method. Put the plastic trash bags (with water in them) on top to form a seal. Put another trash bag over the top of the crock. Put in a dark cool place for a month--delicious sauerkraut.Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sauerkraut 2018.jpg 
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ID:	257782 This was back in 2018. Still got some. Was hoping to make some this year, but weather has not obliged. I can still make a small batch, if I want to or need to.
    Last edited by gbrown; 03-01-2020 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Correction
    One of my father's favorite statements: "If I say a chicken dips snuff, look under his wing for the snuffbox" How I was raised, who I am.

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