Making sauerkraut is a tradition that we started when Jon inherited his family kraut cutter. It is really old, but works great, Jon keeps it well maintained. We make it most every year. Once in a while we skip a year, like when Jon thinks its a good idea to fill the 20 gallon crock to the top, and we have more than enough to last. The first year we made it we cut the cabbage in the dining room, I'm here to tell you that was not~nor will it ever be repeated, what a mess! We make it Labor Day weekend.
We bought cabbage from a local family owned garden. Ours did not do well in our garden. We used 110 lbs of cabbage.
Jon and Willy tear off the outer leaves, wash, quarter and core the cabbage. Then the cutting starts, everyone takes a turn~except for me. Jon and the kids that are home or come home for the event took turns doing the different stages at different times. For the sake of orderliness I put the pictures in the order of operation not how they actually happened so you can get a good idea of how the system works.
Avery did the lions share of the cutting this year.Grace at the cutter.J.J. vocalizing as he cuts. I was a bit creeped out having him be shirtless, then Jon reminded me that back in the old days they stomped it with their feet and the fermentation would kill anything anyway so take a chill pill:)My next concern was how low Willy put his arm when he was at the cutter, this one Jonny sided with me. Jon was really the last to cut, he's good at using up the last of the cabbage and not shaving off pieces of the oak presser. When one of the kids do shave off some oak presser board into the cabbage they just use the "it adds flavor" line.This honestly was about all I did. I just wanted to have my hands in it a little, so Willy let me give him a weighing lesson. We weigh out 5 lbs of cabbage.And then I direct the sprinkling in of 3 tablespoons of canning salt. That really was all I did, well almost, I went and laid on the couch for awhile and some kid with the camera came in and took a picture of me, and reminded me "this is a memory too"!Grace was the mixer in charge, she does a good job of getting the salt and cabbage all incorporated well. She also does a good job of keeping the boys in check when they take over for her while she was off dabbling in other jobs. J.J. stomping...with his shirt on:) We let it get about 4 inches of cabbage on the bottom before the stomping starts, you could break or crack the crock if your not careful. We don't stomp to hard, just enough to bruise the cabbage and create a nice amount of juice.Once it is all stomped, with a nice amount of juice coming up, we tuck in 2 Curity cotton diapers, not the pre-folded kind. We learned the best way to keep it covered is to fill and industrial garbage bag with about 3 gallons of water and then tie strap it shut. Its done when its done, it all depends on the weather. We keep the crock in the garage where it is cool and it cures a bit slower, we think that helps keep it crisp. I'll let you know when its done. Then comes the job of canning all of it...and making more memories.