Sauerkraut For Canning


For the first time ever I turned cabbage into sauerkraut!  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but was apprehensive about safely fermenting anything.  I must admit I was actually afraid.  Like I was the first time I used my pressure cooker.  This fermenting isn’t for the faint of heart.  I have a bit of a weak stomach and every day, once the cabbage starts to ferment, you need to skim the scum from the top.  I bought myself a special scum skimmer from Amazon to do the skimming.


Once during the fermentation process I was out of town for five days.  I kept thinking about the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy puts too much detergent into the washing machine and it is overflowing everywhere.  I had visions of scum and bubbles running over the sides of the crock and onto my kitchen floor.  That did not happen.   But fermenting cabbage was the first thing I smelled when I walked in the door.  No doubt about what the smell was.  I had to put Vicks under my nose and put on my heavy rubber gloves to do the skimming that day.  But the longer the cabbage worked the less it smelled until finally, after nearly five weeks, there was no scum and virtually no smell at all.  Today I took the towel off the top of the crock, removed the weight and the plate, and removed the cheesecloth.  My five heads of cabbage have turned into a crock full of beautiful, perfect sauerkraut!

Making your own sauerkraut does not require any special skills,  The only ingredients you need are cabbage and salt.  The only tools you need are a very sharp knife or mandolin, a large glass or ceramic crock of some sort, a scale to weigh the cabbage to get the salt to cabbage ratio correct, and a scum skimmer.  You have to be patient.  And it’s probably easier if you don’t have a really weak stomach.


Cabbage – the large heads you get at the end of the growing season

Kosher or Pickling salt

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I used 5 large firm heads of cabbage.  Peel and discard the outer leaves.  Cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters and remove the core.


Using a sharp knife and or a mandolin shred the cabbage to about the thickness of a dime.  Weigh out 5 pounds of shredded cabbage and, in a large bowl, add 3 T of salt to the cabbage.  Let it stand until it starts to wilt and then pack it into the crock.  While you’re waiting for the first 5 pounds to wilt continue shredding.

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Continue shredding and salting until all of the cabbage is in the pickling container.  Allow for 3-4 inches of headspace in your crock.  Use your hands to press down on the cabbage until the juices flow and start to come to the top.  If the juices don’t cover the cabbage make up a brine using 1 1/2 T of salt to a quart of water.  Bring the salt water mixture to a boil.  Allow it to cool completely before adding it to the cabbage.

Cover the cabbage in the crock with cheesecloth tucking the edges down alongside the cabbage.  Put a plate on top of the cheesecloth and weigh it down to ensure that the cabbage remains immersed in the liquid.  I used an 8 pound medicine ball (an exercise weight) but you can use a brick wrapped in foil or inside a zip lock bag.


Now the fun begins.  Cover the crock with a towel,  It’s best kept at 70-75 degrees.  My house is never that warm but i kept it in the kitchen which is usually the warmest place and also most convenient for skimming.  Every day I lifted the towel to see what was happening.  It took several days but bubbles and scum began to form.  Each day after that I removed the weight, skimmed the scum, washed off and returned the weight, recovered the crock and waited for another day.  It took a couple days less than five weeks for the gas bubbles to stop forming.  Interestingly a salty crust formed on the outside of the crock.  It’s apparently very normal so don’t let it worry you.


Once the fermentation process is completed remove the sauerkraut to a large stainless steel pot or dutch oven.  Heat the sauerkraut just to a simmer.  Do not boil.  Ladle the sauerkraut into hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace and process in a water bath of 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.


My 5 heads of cabbage made 23 pints of sauerkraut.  I added caraway seeds to one batch.


Looking forward to some Reuben  sandwiches, polish sausages or pork chops with homemade sauerkraut this winter.  Or just a dish of kraut to satisfy a salt craving.


A friend told me that his grandad used to make sauerkraut and when they were kids they would sneak a sip or two from the kraut crock.  I wouldn’t recommend that.


Sweet n Sour Stuffed Cabbage


Sweet n sour cabbage rolls, smashed new potatoes and homemade applesauce. It’s what was for dinner. I think my actual favorite thing about this dish is the cabbage and sauerkraut “gravy” that you cook the cabbage rolls in. I’m thinking that all of the leftovers would make an awesome pot of soup for the next day. This is another dish that I did in the pressure cooker but you could do this on the stovetop and finish it in the oven or even a crockpot and it would be every bit as good. What makes this recipe for cabbage rolls a little unique is the addition of sauerkraut And balsamic vinegar to the mix.  See what you think.


large head of green cabbage

1 pound or so of ground beef, pork or lamb

1 large sweet onion divided

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup cooked long grain white or brown rice

1 large egg

fresh mint chopped

2 T canola oil

2 cups fresh (refrigerated) sauerkraut

1 can tomato sauce

1 pint stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken broth or stock

2 T balsamic vinegar

3 T granulated sugar


Carefully separate the large outer leaves of the cabbage and dip each leaf in a pot of simmering, salted water to soften. This will make the cabbage leaves much easier to work with. Chop the remainder of the cabbage and set aside.


Combine the ground meat, rice, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion, egg, and mint.


Mix well with your hands and shape into 7 or 8 “footballs”.


Put one of the ovals on the core end of the cabbage leaf. Begin rolling it up folding in the sides to make a neat package.


Put the cabbage rolls seam side down on a plate and set aside.


Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat. Rough chop the rest of the onion and add the onion and chopped cabbage to the hot oil.  Sauté for a few minutes to soften.


Add the sauerkraut, tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, vinegar and sugar and stir together.  I didnt have fresh sauerkraut and substitued canned.


Arrange the cabbage rolls in the sauce. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.

Serve the cabbage rolls with some of the sauce.


NOTE:  A cabbage roll is a savory entree that you can stuff with a variety of ingredients. Instead of rice you could use barley or quinoa. You can add mushrooms or other vegetables to the stuffing. Cabbage rolls are part of the traditional cuisine of many European and Balkan countries.  In Finland they are known as kaalikääryle.  I don’t ever remember eating these as a child but apparently  in Finland cabbage rolls are baked in the oven and are brushed with dark syrup. The syrup glaze is made with bacon, dark corn syrup, and tomato paste.  I may have to try that next time.  And of course they served them with fresh lingonberries or lingonberry jam.

Kaalipiirakka (Cabbage Pasty)


If you’re Spanish you might have empanadas, if you’re Polish pierogis, Italian raviolis, and if you’re Finnish kaalipiirakka (cabbage pasty). I was reading a Finnish cookbook today and came across this recipe. I didn’t grow up eating these but I might have. These would be served as an accompaniment to soup or as a bread side with a meal. I think they would be great with tomato soup!  Bread is a mainstay of the Finnish diet…and true to his heritage my grandfather could not eat a meal without bread. I remember both of my grandparents eating bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt.

These little cabbage pasties are fairly easy to make. The slightly sweet pastry dough and the savory cabbage are a nice combination. They might be tasty with a dip of some kind…I’ll have to work on that. Suggestions??

Yeast Pastry ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1 tsp salt

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 cup sugar

4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter


Dissolve the yeast in the water. Beat the egg well with a whisk.


Combine the milk, salt, egg, and sugar in a large bowl.


Add the yeast and 2 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and elastic.


Stir in the butter until blended. Add the remaining flour and mix until you have a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. About 5 minutes.


Place dough in a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again for about 30 minutes. While dough is rising make your filling.

Filling Ingredients:

4 T butter

2 cups sauerkraut drained

2 medium onions sliced thin

2 T brown sugar

1 tsp caraway seeds


In a heavy skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is tender and beginning to caramelize.


Add the sauerkraut, sugar, and caraway seed. Stir until well blended and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Our filling is ready.


Preheat your oven to 375.

Now you’re ready to roll your dough and fill your kaalipiirakka. Divide the dough into thirds and roll the dough about 1/3 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a glass or cookie/biscuit cutter on the dough. I used a scalloped cutter but round would work just fine.


Brush each circle with half and half to moisten the edges for sealing. Put a tsp of filling in the center of a disc, put a second disc on top and crimp the edges with a fork.


(The amount of filling in each will actually depend on the size of your discs). Brush each filled and crimped kaalipiirakka with half n half and cut a little steam vent in the center. Put on a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until golden brown.



You’ll have extra filling. Just get out a fork and finish it off. Tastes great!!