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Ever wondered how to can sauerkraut so you can enjoy it all winter long? You can easily ferment and can your own sauerkraut in the comfort of your own kitchen!
Recently I wrote about our Cabbage harvest and using some of it to make Sauerkraut. Water bath canning Sauerkraut is pretty easy; a beginning canner can preserve cabbage with confidence.
What is Sauerkraut?
Hailing from Germany, this salted cabbage dish is created by fermenting cabbage and results in a distinctive sour flavor. Because it has a long shelf life, it’s an easy way to preserve some shredded cabbage and Graham loves it along with pierogies and sausages. Read here to see how to make your own Sauerkraut including more details about the fermentation process. The best part is the sauerkraut ferments passively, which means for the most part you can let it be.
The process essentially involves removing the outer leaves of the cabbage (don’t discard these, you can eat them!), shredding the cabbage with a knife or food processor, and layering with pickling salt. It’s easy to cover cabbage and let the fermentation process do its job! Check out the recipe above for more detailed instructions.
After leaving the kraut in the crock for a couple of weeks and checking it often, I scooped some out for Graham to do a taste test. He found it to be delicious and mild, which he likes.
That meant it was time to finish off the preserving of the Sauerkraut. If we wanted to, we could just put the crock down in our Cold Room and use the Sauerkraut when we wanted some. We keep our Cold Room between 32 and 40F, and this temperature would be fine for the Sauerkraut.
However, we chose to can it instead – so should you if you cannot keep the crock in a cool enough place. Here’s how I did it. You can also raw-pack your sauerkraut by skipping the steps that involve heating it before packing it into the jars. I prefer to hot-pack when canning sauerkraut.
Water Bath Canning for Homemade Sauerkraut
- Heat the Sauerkraut in a large pot, stirring with a plastic or wooden spoon. You want it to gently simmer, don’t boil it. Gentle bubbles means you’re at the right temperature.
- Add a bit of the juice. Make a brine, in case you don’t have enough juice in the crock.
- You’re going to Hot Water Bath the Sauerkraut, so wash your jars and then set them into your boiling water canner. Keep them in there for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get your seals and rings ready. Pour boiling water over them and let them sit until you need them. I’m using Tattler lids for some of the jars – I should have ordered more so I had some new lids!
- Use 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt for each 1 quart of water. Heat this brine on the stove.
- Once you get your Sauerkraut warmed up, hot pack it into jars. I use pint jars but you can use quarts if you like a larger jar size.
- Leave 1/2 inch of headroom in the jars. Add the warm liquid and use the brine, if you need to. Leave 1/2 inch of headroom and wipe the rim of each jar.
- If you are using Tattler lids and seals, there is a slightly different process to follow and you can read it here. It is very important to let the contents vent during the processing.
- Place your jars in the Boiling Water Bath and once the water comes back to a boil, set your timer for 15 minutes for pints. If I had used quarts, the processing time would be 25 minutes.
- I have to add 5 minutes because of our altitude (2800 ft). Make sure you always take your elevation into account when you do canning, it is very important.
- Once the time is up, remove your jars and leave them alone for 24 hours. After that, you can wipe the jars down, remove the metal bands if you like, and place the jars on your pantry shelf.
What Supplies Do I Need for Canning?
I have a very handy food grade Canning kit (Presto) that includes jar lifter, seal grabber, a funnel, a measuring gauge that allows you to easily figure out the headspace and more.
These items are almost a necessity when canning. You can order one of these Canning kits here.
What Can I Use Sauerkraut For?
Graham has already enjoyed a meal of Bratwurts and Sauerkraut along with Perogies, and is looking forward to many more. It can also be eaten on its own or as a simple side dish if you really enjoy the flavor. It pairs well with bold, savory flavors like onions and garlic.
Sauerkraut has many health benefits: lots of naturally occurring probiotics that foster beneficial bacteria in the body to improve digestion, nutrients, vitamins, and it can even help strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
We ended up with 17 pints of Sauerkraut using a 3 gallon crock, which held a total of 15 pounds of cabbage.
More Home Food Preservation Guides
- Want to can some fruit? Here’s How to Can Cherries so you can fill your pantry shelves.
- Here’s How to Can Salmon (and any other fish)
- Using Tattler Lids? Here’s how I make sure to use Tattler Lids and Seals properly!
- Make these Quick Pickled Carrots from the Minimalist Baker!