There are plenty of reasons to make sauerkraut: it’s economical, long-lasting and packed with nutrition. But most importantly, homemade sauerkraut is infinitely more delicious than what you can buy in stores.
Our sauerkraut recipe comes from Jose Alvarado, chef and owner at Jose O’Connor’s in Carthage, NY. Every year he gathers his community to harvest 3,000 pounds of cabbage for a fermenting festival — complete with beer, camaraderie and plenty of stories. Incorporate sauerkraut into dishes like his Grilled Reuben Sandwiches and Upstate Shoo-Kroot, or use it as a foundation to experiment with new flavors and ingredients. Be creative!
Jose O’Connor’s Sauerkraut
35 lb. green cabbage, trimmed, outer leaves removed, cored and quartered
3/4 cup canning salt (any store-bought brand that is not iodized)
Before you begin, find a cool, dry, dark place, about 60°F, where you will store a 5-gallon crock, and prepare the cabbage there.
Using a mandoline, slice the cabbage about 1/16 inch thick.
Feather a few handfuls of the cabbage into the crock, alternately sprinkling in the salt between handfuls.
When one-third of the cabbage and the salt are in the crock, pound with a long, thick wooden stick or mallet. Firmly pound straight down onto the cabbage, which will bruise and cause it to release its liquid and combine with the salt to form a brine. Evenly distributing the salt when sprinkling it on the cabbage will help with this process because the salt acts as an abrasive against the cabbage before dissolving into the resulting liquid. Using clean hands, occasionally reach down to the bottom layer of cabbage and pull it up to the top to ensure that all of the cabbage is being pounded.
Push the cabbage down below the layer of liquid and repeat the layering and pounding 2 more times until all of the cabbage and salt have been processed in the crock. Push the cabbage down below the liquid a final time, then top with a large, clean plate. Fill an empty milk jug or a gallon jug with water and place on top of the plate to keep the shredded cabbage submerged in the brine throughout the curing process.
Remove the jug and plate from the crock once a week and skim off the foam. Clean the plate and weight down the cabbage again. The sauerkraut is finished when it stops foaming, which means that the fermenting process is complete; this should take about 4 weeks.
Ladle the sauerkraut into vacuum bags and seal. You may want to freeze a portion for later use. Makes about 20 lb.