I love sauerkraut. The tang, the association with hot dogs (and, by extension, fairs), its working-class, good-natured yumminess. Even though I posted a sauerkraut recipe I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle, I have been strangely reluctant to make any this year. I think I found the recipe, and the concept of home 'kraut as presented in the Food section a little too daunting.
But we got a huge head of Napa cabbage in this week's farm box—either the freebie, abandoned CSA box our neighbor gave us, or the one we subscribe to; I can't remember. Even with the crispy duck Greg brought back from the Bay Area, for two people a whole head of cabbage goes a long way.
All roads were leading to sauerkraut.
So ignoring my previously-posted recipe, I trolled the Internet, landing in short order at Mother Earth News. Over the past two years of canning, I have to say that MEN and Pick Your Own have been my best, most-reliable sources for non-fussy canning. If the accompanying pictures of my food preparation area don't horrify you, you'll probably find something you like on those sites, too. Well worth checking out.
Anyway, on to the sauerkraut. Back when I read the article in the Chron, I did a little surfing looking for real 'kraut crocks. Nice, but pricey! I'd take one if I got it free—it'd look great sitting on my granite-top counters next to my Viking stove...ha!—but I went the poor-(wo)man's route: my lowly crockpot.
Here's the recipe I used from Mother Earth News:
By Nathan Poell
2 large heads of cabbage (about 5 pounds)
2 to 3 tbsp noniodized salt
Grate 1 cabbage and place in a crock or plastic bucket. Sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage. Grate the second cabbage, then add it to the crock along with the rest of the salt. Crush the mixture with your hands until liquid comes out of the cabbage freely. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then a weight on top of the plate. Cover the container and check after 2 days. Scoop the scum off the top, repack and check every 3 days. After 2 weeks, sample the kraut to see if it tastes ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Canning or refrigerating the sauerkraut will extend its shelf life. Yields about 2 quarts.