Old time sauerkraut recipes, like many pickle recipes, required no canning or freezing. Kraut is a healthy food. The lactic acid that is formed when it ferments is nutritious. Some people complain of the salt in it, but I always drain all the juice from the kraut before cooking and never add additional salt to the recipe.
HOW TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT
Basically, for making sauerkraut recipes the ratio is 3 tablespoons of salt to five pounds of cabbage. Shred the cabbage very thinly and weigh it out. (No guess work) Measure the salt too. Too much salt may encourage wild yeast to grow and too little salt may make the cabbage mushy.
In canning kraut as in all canning foods use a clean crock or a container made of glass, enamel or stainless steel. Mix some of the cabbage with some salt and layer it in the container. Press it down with a wooden mallet or wooden block.
Dividing the salt equally with each batch of cabbage, continue to layer it in the crock. Follow by pressing each layer. When the container is filled and all salt is used, cover with a sterile cloth. Tuck the cloth in around the edges of the container and weight it down. (Maybe a plate with a heavy jar on top)
Set kraut in a place where the temperature is 70F degrees or less. Ideally it should be 65F degrees. After 24 hours, enough brine should develop to cover the cabbage. If it does not, mix 2 ½ teaspoons salt per 1 cup of cold water and add to container. Cover again. It will take as long as ten days for the cabbage to ferment. As it ferments, the sauerkraut will bubble and may overflow. It is done when the fermentation ends.
Check every day to see if a scum has formed. Change the sterilized cloth and plate every day. Taste the kraut when you check it. When it is partially done, you might want to take some out to cook and try. To store the kraut without canning, keep it at a temperature under 40F degrees. It should last all winter. To can from this point, heat the kraut to just below boiling point. Pack in hot sterilized jars. Add enough hot juice to fill the jars leaving ½ inch head space. Seal jars and process quart jars in boiling bath for twenty minutes.
SAUERKRAUT IN JARS
Shred the cabbage very fine, saving some of the leaves for top of jars. Pack the shredded cabbage into sterilized canning jars. Use a wood stomper to pack in firmly. When the jars are filled to 1 ½ inches from the top add one tablespoon salt. Fold one cabbage leaf and place it in the jar on the top of the cabbage. Fill the jar with cold water to ½ inch of the cabbage top. Cap the jar loosely.
Place filled jars on several layers of newspapers to ferment. When juice has stopped bubbling, refill with cold water and re-cap. Store jars in a cool dark place. Sauerkraut will be ready in 2 to 4 weeks.
Have you ever thought about what is the difference between canning sauerkraut and canning cabbage. The basic difference is that sauerkraut recipes have a lot of salt in them which causes the cabbage to ferment and turn into sauerkraut after a while. Canning cabbage does not require any salt at all like other vegetables such as peppers and squash; but I choose to put ½ teaspoon into each quart jar. Also sauerkraut does not need to be processed at all; actually it will ferment in a crock without any canning at all while cabbage needs to be processed in a pressure cooker. Another minor difference between canning cabbage and canning sauerkraut is the way the cabbage is cut. For sauerkraut recipes the cabbage should be sliced very thinly on a slicer. For cabbage recipes you can cut the cabbage in larger pieces just like you would when you cook it.
NOTE: Cabbage usually discolors a little bit when canned and the flavor becomes a little stronger.
BAKED SWEET SAUERKRAUT RECIPE
Try some of your home canned sauerkraut recipes and even your home canned tomatoes in this recipe. It has a little “twist” from most kraut recipes with the added sugar. The long baking time allows the top to caramelize and the liquid to cook up. Use a flat dish to bake it in allowing for the evaporation.
Preheat oven to 325F degrees; grease a flat 2 quart baking dish.
Combine and blend thoroughly all ingredients; spread evenly in baking dish.
Bake uncovered 2 hours and 15 minutes or until the top turns deep brown and liquid has cooked away.
CABBAGE CASSEROLE RECIPE
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Sauté onion and garlic in a little cooking oil.
Add mushroom soup, 1 ½ cups shredded cheese and blend well; stir until cheese melts.
Drain cabbage and add to soup mixture; pour into greased casserole baking dish.
Sprinkle top of casserole with bread crumbs, dot with butter and top with remaining cheese.
Bake about 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and heated through.