Friday, May 20, 2011

Making Sauerkraut From A Vintage Family Recipe

"...And this is the finest Kraut I ever did eat. I am thinking of getting my self some cabbage and make some when we go to town make it this way and you wont regret it..." 
                                                                                            ~my great-aunt, Jessie McCann Martin

Grandma Maude's Handmade Binder
Among the many things that keep me connected to my grandmother (my dad's mother), Maude Belle McCann Brown Graham, is this treasured binder that she made in December of 1941 to house her, then new, Ball Blue Book, as well as other favorite family recipes in, among which is her sister, Jessie's, handwritten sauerkraut recipe. It's not only the recipe that my grandmother and Aunt Jessie used, but it's the recipe that my mother used, and the recipe that I have used since first learning how to can.

Dec. 1941 - Maude B. Graham - Birch Tree, MO

Grandma's 1941 Ball Blue Book
Yesterday we were blessed with three large heads of cabbage.

These were some of the biggest cabbages I've ever seen and I think they were home grown!

 They were too big to fit in our fridge, so this morning I set to work turning them into sauerkraut. Once again, I used Aunt Jessie's tried and true recipe.

Great-aunt Jessie's Handwritten 'Sour Kraut' Recipe
 Aunt Jessie's recipe reads as follows (and I quoted it word for word exactly the way Aunt Jessie wrote it):

"...here is how I make my sour kraut I cut It with a cutter and then pack it tight In the Jars I use the handle of a butcher Knife and press it tight and dont leave no air holes In it and then I put a tea spoon salt to a qt or a table spoon  to a half gallon. and have a tea kettle hot boiling water and fill the Jar with hot boiling water and seal tight. and set the jars in a pan for they will spit out some. And this is the finest Kraut I ever did eat. I am thinking of getting my self some cabbage and make some when we go to town make it this way and you wont regret it..."

Using photos and a few further instructions of my own, I have decided to share Aunt Jessie's recipe here on HEARTH AND HOME...

After preparing the quart jars and tearing away the outer leaves of the cabbages (which were a real treat for our chickens), I set to work cutting one cabbage at a time into quarters, coring it, and slicing the quarters into food-processor-sized slices. 

Old glass mayonnaise jars work great for sauerkraut!


Slicing The Quarters

Preparing The Cabbage For Kraut
Alternately, I worked between slicing cabbage, running it through the food-processor, filling a big bowl with shredded cabbage, and packing it into clean jars.

The food-processor did a great job of shredding the cabbage for kraut!
Shredded cabbage was everywhere!
Packing The Kraut Into Jars
You want it good and tight!
A wooden spoon helps to tamp it down.
Next, it was time to add salt...1 teaspoon per quart and boiling water to each jar. I'm not sure what kind of salt Aunt Jessie used, but I used regular Morton Canning and Pickling Salt.

Adding salt to each quart...




...and boiling water.

After that, the next step was to release the air bubbles. I did this by just running a regular table knife up and down the inside edge of each jar from top to bottom several times. After that I finished filling the jars to within a half-inch of the top with more boiling water.

Releasing The Air Bubbles

Adding More Hot Water To Fill
Then it was time to clean the rims of the jars and cap them with lids which had been kept on the stove in boiling hot water.
Cleaning The Rims Of The Jars
Capping The Jars
The final step in the canning process...at least this leg of it...was to rinse the jars and line up them up on the cabinet to admire their beauty.

Rinsing The Jars
The Finished Product (For Now Anyway)




I got eight, fully-packed quarts of sauerkraut out of the three heads of cabbage. While I was preparing the kraut, my husband was preparing a a cool, dry place under our house to store the kraut while it ferments. That is where it will stay for the next six weeks. After that we will bring it out, wipe the jars, refill any jars that are low on water, recap with fresh caps, and bathe them in a hot water bath for 30 minutes. After that, the sauerkraut will be ready to eat.

(This article is linked back to The Legacy of Home's 'Vintage Home Link-Up' page. Please visit it to find other great articles on 'vintage living'.)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, your post reminded me of times when my granny used to make kimchi (a type of spicy fermented cabbages) using a earthen crock and then bury it underground. Thank goodness now with a dedicated fermenting crock, there's no need to bury things underground any more. :) Thanks!

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