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    Homemade Sauerkraut

    about 50 pounds of cabbage
    1 pound (1 C) salt, pure granulated

    Remove the outer leaves and any undesirable portions from firm, mature heads of cabbage; wash and drain. Cut into halves or quarters; remove the core. Use a shredder or sharp knife and cut the cabbage into thin shreds about the thickness of a dime or quarter.

    In a large container, thoroughly mix 3 T salt with 5 pounds shredded cabbage. Let the salted cabbage stand for several minutes to wilt slightly; this allows packing without excessive bruising of the shreds. Pack the salted cabbage firmly & evenly into a large crock (5 gallon plastic bucket works well). Use a wooden spoon or the hands, press down firmly until the juice comes to the surface. Repeat the shredding, salting, & packing until the crock is within 3 or 4 inches of the top.

    Cover the cabbage with a clean, thin, white cloth (such as muslin) and tuck the edges down against the inside of the container. Cover with a plate or round paraffin board that just fits inside the container so that the cabbage is not exposed to the air. Put a weight on top of the cover so that the brine comes to the cover but will not go over it. A glass jar filled with water makes a good weight. A newer method of covering cabbage during fermentation consists of placing a plastic bag filled with water (or brine) on top of the fermenting cabbage. The water filled bag seals the surface from exposure to air, and prevents the growth of film yeast or molds. It also serves as a weight. For extra protection, the bag with the water in it can be placed inside another bag or filled with brine instead of water. Any bag used should be of heavyweight, watertight plastic and intended for use with foods.

    The amount of water in the plastic bag can be adjusted to give just enough pressure to keep the fermenting cabbage covered with brine. Formation of gas bubbles indicated fermentation is taking place. A room temperature of 68 to 72 degrees is best for fermenting cabbage. Fermentation is usually completed in 5 to 6 weeks.

    To store: Heat sauerkraut to simmering (185 to 210 degrees F). Do not boil. Pack hot sauerkraut into clean, hot jars and cover with hot juice to inch of top of jar. Process in a boiling water bath, 15 minutes for pints, and 20 minutes for quarts. Start to count processing time as soon as hot jars are place into the actively boiling water. Remove jars and complete seals if necessary. Set jars apart upright, several inches apart, to cool. Yields about 16 to 18 quarts.




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