“Sauerkraut and bacon drive all care away.”
- Pennsylvania Dutch proverb
I've always been curious about the making of sauerkraut. My curiosity led me to the small town of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, a place that gives you that funny, step-back-in-time feeling that I love so well. I was on the hunt for a stoneware crock to ferment sauerkraut in. Do you know you can pay over a hundred dollars for one of these? I was not about to do so, as this is just an experiment of sorts.
My next idea was to search out a vintage one, like my butter churn, until a kind soul left a comment on the internet about sauerkraut crocks. They pointed out that antique crocks should not be used because they may have lead in the glaze. Further, you could easily find one for about twenty dollars at an Ace Hardware store. This is what I call fortuitous, because Fleetwood looks like the kind of town where people still make their own sauerkraut - AND, they just happened to have their own old-timey Ace Hardware store...with wooden floors, no less! Oh, happiness....
When I got there, I inquired as to whether they carried an economical food-safe crock. Of course they did. Mwahahaha, come to mama. Then home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
Sauerkraut is ridiculously easy. Shredded cabbage, salt, water. That's it.
Here's the fun part. Stuff it into the crock. Cover the cabbage with cheesecloth. Put a plate on top of the cheesecloth, and a clean rock on top of the plate. The cabbage swells, so the purpose of the plate and rock is to keep the cabbage submerged in the salt water brine. After a day or two, bubble, bubble, toil and tr-... I mean fermenting begins and will continue for the next six weeks.
Three fortnights hence, the sauerkraut should be ready for canning. More on that a few weeks from now--'cause I know you're just as excited as I am...