I am canning sauerkraut today, for the first time. I’ve made it several times, but never in a quantity great enough to warrant canning. I’m excited about it. It will go very nicely with the cubed pork tenderloin I canned earlier this year. Now, on busy evenings when I am late in getting home, or just don’t have the supplies, mental of physical, to make supper, I will be able to open a pint each of kraut and pork, and with the addition of a few crushed juniper berries, and either potatoes or dumplings, will have a fantastic supper for two, with enough left over for a lunch for Mr. Dewey.
“Did she say ‘Dumplings’?”
Yes. Yes, I did. It is a dish Mr. Dewey said his mother made when they were kids. I was skeptical. Of course I grew up on Chicken and Dumplings. It never occurred to me that dumplings could go anywhere else, much less on something as exotic as sauerkraut. As a matter if fact, it seemed WRONG. Almost insulting; like ketchup on oatmeal. So, I resisted. Finally, one night, I tried it.
I am hooked. The juniper berries were an inspiration. I simply can’t leave well enough along. And that is sometimes a good thing.
But, I digress. I am canning homemade sauerkraut. It is easy to make at home. Sandor Katz, author of “The Art of Fermentation,” makes the process of fermentation almost playful. So, I played. With the old, cracked crock I found at the Tree Streets sale a couple of years ago, and with a couple of large glass jars; those big olive or pickle jars that you find in the “Institutional” section of the grocery store. I had purchased a giant jar of dill pickles, and ended up tossing out the pickles once about three-quarters of them molded in the fridge. Ah well; so much for that idea. At least I got a great jar for making a couple pints of kraut. The cracked crock was rendered useable, thanks to Katz, with the application of melted food-grade wax in the cracks on the outside. If I can get a few more uses out of it that way, great! So, I started a jar for Mike, one for us, and the crock for canning.
The kraut in the jars was ready to eat in only a few weeks. The larger crock took about 5. But it was no work at all. The only thing to do I did was unscrew the caps on the jars every day so gas didn’t build up and cause an explosion, and check the crock to make sure there was nothing unsightly growing around the edges. I’d pull a few strands of questionable looking kraut off the edges, and put the plate and dish towel back over the top.
And now I have nine pints of goodness – complete with probiotics for digestive happiness (from that which I did not can)- bubbling away on the stove.