When I lived briefly in Germany, I couldn’t get over the bins of freshly sliced crisp cabbage at morning street markets, awaiting the housewife thrifty of time. Cabbage is easy enough to cut up at home, but it’s the little niceties that make all the difference between starting from scratch and opening a can. Canning has all but ruined the reputation, let alone the taste, of sauerkraut in this country, since the vinegar is usually far too strong and the cabbage far too tired from mummification in a can.
The only major deterrent to making sauerkraut at home is finding space for a pickle crock, particularly if you deal in the quantities suggested by Mrs.
Fermenting apples helped to sweeten the crock, and apples were as plentiful in this country as cabbages. Once the kraut was made, it might be “appled” again with fresh apples, bacon, and potatoes to make a splendid light supper or to accompany a roast. A booklet put out by Mader’s Restaurant,
To prepare the sauerkraut, remove 2 or 3 outer leaves from each cabbage and set aside. Cut cabbages in half and slice very fine by hand or in a food processor. Peel, core, and finely chop the apples. In a large pan, mix the cabbage with the salt, caraway, and apples. Line a gallon crock or a nonmetallic equivalent with the outer cabbage leaves, saving a few to cover the top. Put in
The cabbage will take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to ferment: below 75°, 4 to 6 weeks; above 75°, 2 to 3 weeks. Every few days, remove scum from the top of the brine, replace plastic bag or cloth, wash the plate and the rim of the crock, and return plate and weight. When the bubbling stops, fermentation is complete. Cover crock lightly and store in a cool (38°) place, removing scum once a week, or refrigerate and dispense with scumming. Rinse the cabbage before using.
To make the apple sauerkraut, sauté bacon until crisp, remove from pan and drain, and pour off all but
© 1986 Betty Fussell. All rights reserved.