Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone – Sometimes Kraut Is Required

I’ve gone thru many phases in my Gardening career and lately have settled in to growing just what we plan to eat fresh, except tomatoes and peppers, which we preserve.  So, for cabbage I usually grow enough for some slaw, a few batches cooked, and a couple to give away.  However, we have a new friend, Mark, of German descent who makes good kraut and agreed to show me his process.

I don’t know how much kraut I’ve made over the years (it’s a lot) but I’ve never made any I like as well as that in the refrigerated bags in the market - mines never crisp enough or tangy enough, or ….

This year I grew extra for preserving and these plus the four previously harvested heads and the two smaller ones still in the garden constitute my crop.

These are Dutch Flat, which I grew because they make big heads and I got a lot of cabbage pre foot of garden row.  Mark picked up a few more heads to have enough for a full five gallon crock.  Here is 2/3 of it ready to slice.

In addition to some cabbage, he also brought his tools and it’s obvious he takes his kraut seriously – he makes 15 gallons at a time. 

My buddy Joe came over to learn the process as well and this is him cutting on one of the two mandolins.

Fermented kraut is made using nothing but cabbage and salt (Mark uses Kosher) and after each 3 inch layer of cut cabbage is in the crock, it is salted and pounded to get the juices flowing.  Mark’s brother made him this very serious tool for doing the pounding.

As you can see by Mark’s shirt, this is not an easy job.  I hate to admit it but Mark and Joe did the lion's share of the work.

He likes to make his dry, so the liquid was dipped out after each pounding.  The process continues in successive 3 inch layers until it is within about 4 inches of the top. 

The crock was sealed with a bag of water and stored to ferment for 6-8 weeks.

I’ll be back then with the outcome.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Blogger Party 2011


6/8/12 event date


  1. We have these wonderful old kraut crocks from my husband's grandmother. I'd love to try it. Where do you store it for the 6-8 weeks?

  2. There is some serious kraut making going on here. My grandfather was first generation German, but I don't remember much kraut from my childhood. Can't wait for the results.

  3. Pam - it just needs to be at room temperature so it's in my lower air conditioned garage.

  4. This reminds me of my childhood. We always had sauerkraut but I remember the women making it!! Sauerkraut is good for you. If I had my own fermenting, I would can it and eat it every day. Looking forward to the final results in 6-8 weeks.

  5. Fabulous! This will be great fun to see how it turns out. Do you add vinegar at some point?

  6. I love seeing you take the time to make your own kraut. It's obviously not a quick and easy process - but definitely worth the work! Can't wait to see the outcome!

  7. I had no idea and am completely intrigued. Now you're leaving me hanging for two months? This is like who shot J.R. - lol. Seriously i can wait to see and read about the outcome.

  8. What a process! Looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I can't believe how many cabbages you grew this year.

  9. Larry, At least now I know the process...and that it's a lot of work! I'll stick to store or friend furnished kraut. Way to much effort to make our own! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  10. I love sauerkraut! Coming from a German family it seemed like a staple at our house. When my grandpa came to live with us I remember his making it and storing the crock in the garage....great memories, great kraut!

  11. My Mother-in-law used to make it and can it. Yum! My husband will be planting cabbage after I show him this! Beautiful heads by the way :)

  12. Holy Cow --as much as I love kraut, I would never go through THAT in order to have some... BUT--it's interesting to see how it is made.... Thanks, Larry.

  13. I like your title --and the prospect of some delicious kraut.

  14. I stopped by and can attest, these guys were working their butts off!

  15. That is what I call a labor of love. Very messy but I'm sure the end result is terrific.


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