I’m going try my hand at corned beef soon. Was thinking of making some sauerkraut to go along with it. Anyone ever try it at home? Doesn’t seem very difficult. I’m wondering if it’s much better than store bought.

there are a few store bought brands which I like such as Bubbies but the biggest differences with home made is it’s significantly cheaper and you can control the softness you want. I like it really broken down and the store bought stuff is rather crisp typically. otherwise, yes, it’s easy.

Infinitely better.
Cut cabbage in wedges, then slice thin, sprinkle salt and toss it around to blend it together, then you can pack it tight into canning jars and fill it up to about 1/2 inch to the brim with water put the lids on but don’t tighten super tight. Or if you have a crock made for kraut do the same except pack into the crock. Sauerkraut crocks have a special piece of wood that has holes in it, there a special way to use it. Next put it in a dark quiet place and let it ferment for several months.

Shouldn’t normally need water, or at least when I’ve done it I’ve never had to add water. The cabbage, with appropriate amount of salt and weighting, emits enough water that no additional is necessary.

Thanks for the tips. I’m going to try the recipe from the Charcuterie book for my first go.

I agree that homemade is better. I make it all the time. This time of year you can likely get it to ferment in 1-2 weeks. I do small batches in quart canning jars using Ferment’n airlocks and weights ( because it’s cheaper than buying a crock. (No affiliation - they’re just convenient)

Be careful about how much salt you use. It’s easy to use way too much salt which can kill the lactic bacteria. I use about 2 teaspoons of pickling or kosher salt per small-medium head of cabbage (about 2-3 pounds). Also, you shouldn’t need to add water. If you think you need to add water, you likely haven’t massaged it enough to get all the liquid out.

The charcuterie book called for a brine so I followed the directions. It’s only $3 of ingredients so no big deal if it’s a dud. I put it in a two gallon glass crock covered with cheese cloth and a plate/bowl to weight everything down. Then I put it in my wine cellar which is 63F this time of the year.

I do have an old crock that I assume would have been used for this kind of thing back in the day but doubts about lead glaze entered my mind.

I think half sour pickles are up next. I love those things but they’re scarce and expensive in these parts.

Yep, do it every few months. As mentioned above, cut/shred the cabbage (I alternate between batches of green and purple), in a big bowl salt with about 2tsp per head and toss/massage with hands; pack into containers (I use mason jars) and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. After doing this, don’t really need to weigh it down. I put a piece of paper towel around the mouth of the jar with a rubber band to keep secure. Put it a dark corner of your kitchen counter and monitor for a few weeks making sure the cabbage is submerged in the liquid it releases. In a few days you will see active bubbling. After a couple of weeks, close with the jar’s lid and store in fridge.

Go for it. It’s a good time of year to do all kind of pickles, particularly if you have a garden. I currently have sauerkraut that’s finished and in the fridge, but fermenting cucumbers as dill pickles and also a variant of bread and butter pickles, and then some peperoncini (with vinegar as opposed to fermented). Tomorrow I hope to start my fermented Chinese style pickled mustard greens since I’m buried in mustard greens right now.

Glad to hear you are pickling the mustard greens Rachel. I love them in fried rice and pad thai.

And generally, nice to have you back on the board. I always enjoy talking food with you.

Thanks Paul. This will be the first batch I’ve fermented, but I’ve done previous batches with vinegar from the Asian Pickles book by Karen Solomon. This batch is just salt and ground, toasted Szechuan peppercorn. Same technique as sauerkraut. Wash and dry the mustard greens, cut them up, salt them, massage them to draw the liquid, and then throw them in jar to ferment. We’ll see how they turn out. I’ve got a second crop of mustard greens coming up, so I can likely do more if these turn out well.

I made the half sour pickles today. This will culminate next weekend when sauerkraut, pickles and corned beef will all be ready to eat.

So this was a fail. Lots of really weird stuff growing on the cabbage after two weeks. I followed the recipe precisely. The recipe did not say that I should wash the cabbage after cutting it which is what I suspect I should have done.

Was the cabbage submerged under the liquid? If not, THAT was the issue.

Chuck it, try again. You HAVE to compact it down enough that the liquid covers all the solids. You’ll see active bubbles by the next day.

I use a round block of oak my father made for me with holes drilled in it then use a brick to weigh it down ( I washed in the dishwasher a few times then I double bagged and vacuum sealed it). Probably over kill, but that’s how I keep it submerged in my crock.

I used a plate with a bowl on top for weight then I covered with cheese cloth and put the lid back on.

I wash the whole head of cabbage and remove any damaged outer leaves, but once it’s shredded I don’t wash it again. I always shred the cabbage, salt it (again 2 tsp per head), and then massage it to pull the liquid from the cabbage (like Jorge). I’ve never used a pre-made brine, since I’m essentially making brine from the salt and the liquid it pulls from the cabbage. If yours was submerged the entire time and it still molded, all I can think of is that when your brine pulled the water out of the cabbage it diluted the salt content enough that it allowed mold/gross stuff to grow. I’ve gotten spots of mold when things weren’t covered in brine, but I’ve never lost a whole batch, particularly if it was submerged the entire time. (Yes, if I get a small patch of mold, I scoop it out and then submerge everything again and keep the batch. I’ve been told by my sausage making brother that generally white mold is fine, but blue-green mold isn’t. If I get a spot of white mold I figure it’s no big deal and I’ve never gotten sick from it. I’ve never gotten blue green mold.)

In any event, don’t quit. Try the salting/massaging method and give it another shot. Homemade sauerkraut is so good, it’s worth trying again.

How did the half sours turn out?

The pickles were awesome. I’ve already made more.

There was definitely black mold in there – and not just at the top. My wife took one look and said, “I’m not eating that.”

Offer her some bleu cheese.