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March Madness and How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut!

March Madness and How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut!March Madness and How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut! by by Lisa Carr

You can smell it in the air--the hope of spring, the Final 4, homemade sauerkraut...What? Homemade sauerkraut?! Aah yes, it's true. While daffodils are blooming and basketballs are bouncing, there is yet another indication that spring is nigh: CABBAGE GOES ON SALE! Keep a look out because it happens every year just about the time of St. Patrick's Day!

Grocery stores in their attempts to get you to come on in and shop put out their promotional products, and just about the middle of March the cabbage goes on sale. Being the frugal soul I am, I look forward to this time to stock up on fresh cabbage so that I can begin my annual ritual of making homemade sauerkraut. Now, if you have never made your own sauerkraut, you are in for a treat. Not only is it fun, easy, and economical, it is great tasting.

The process for making your own sauerkraut is very easy, and you can make as much as you want, or as little as you want. For me, I usually shred approximately 20-25 pounds of cabbage and end up with 8-10 quarts of sauerkraut. For the purpose of this article, I will give you directions on how to make a small batch of sauerkraut, therefore, all you will need in the way of supplies are clean, glass fruit jars.
Here are your basic directions:

1. Remove and discard the outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash, drain, cut in halves or quarters, and discard the core (put in the compost bucket!! Nothing goes to waste!)

2. Shred 5 pounds of cabbage at a time with a shredder or sharp knife. I use my food processor with the slicing blade, and the slices come out perfect. Your slices of cabbage should be no thicker than a dime.

3. Put the 5 pounds of shredded cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle 3.5 tablespoons of pickling salt (not table salt!) over the cabbage and mix thoroughly with your hands. Press or stomp the cabbage with a potato masher until the mixture gets "juicy".

4. Pack into clean jars, pressing the cabbage down firmly with a wooden spoon. Fill your jars to within 1.5 to 2 inches from the tops. It takes approximately 2 pounds of cabbage to fill 1 quart jar. Be sure there is juice covering the cabbage!

5. Wipe off the jar top, then cover the cabbage with pads of cheesecloth. I use clean, white, old pieces of sheet, and this has worked perfectly fine for me. Tuck in the "cloth" so the edges are against the inside of the jar. Place a lid on the jar, but to not tighten completely.

6. Put jars on folded newspaper in a dark corner where the cabbage can ferment at room temperature. The ideal temperature is a constant 70*. Some juice may spill over, so that is the purpose of the newspapers. Let the cabbage ferment for about 10-14 days. Make sure that during the fermentation period that the cabbage is always covered with brine or juice. You may need to make up a weak brine consisting of 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 quart of water to pour over the cabbage if the cabbage is not covered.

7. Open your jar, taste and see. You should have a fine batch of sauerkraut. If you want the "kraut" to ferment a bit longer, just replace the lid...or get out a bratwurst and have a meal!

Making sauerkraut is very fun and easy. Although it may not be exactly the Final 4 or a tulip, cabbage is round like a basketball, and green like spring...and you'll have a tasty end to March Madness! If you would like further tips on how to can up your sauerkraut or how to make a crock-size batch of sauerkraut, please visit my blogs which are listed in the resource box!

Lisa Carr has lived off the "grid" for several years where she has honed her homestead skills and self-sufficiency strategies. She would love to share her food storage and preservation tips or you can just visit http://homesteadfamilyodyssey to see how a modern homestead family lives today!

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