Instead of setting yourself back over 100$ for an authentic German sauerkraut urn, you can ferment in a 5 gallon bucket to make sauerkraut that’s just as good.
Sauerkraut at home is just two ingredients – cabbage and salt. But you have to get the right salt, it should say “pickling salt” or “canning salt.” Here’s an example.
You will need something to weigh the sauerkraut down as it ferments. You can use the standard sauerkraut stone disks, or something as simple as a plate weighed down with a gallon jug of water.
Use a Food Safe Bucket
There is some disagreement about whether the orange Home Depot buckets are food safe. If you have access to a bucket that is explicitly labeled as food safe, which Home Depot buckets are not, it’s best to use that.
To find out more, read our full dissection of the food safe buckets issue.
5 Gallon Bucket Sauerkraut
First make sure your bucket and weight are clean as can be. Soap, hot water, and plenty of scrubbing will get you there.
Chop up your cabbages. 2 heads will make about 2 quart jars, so adjust as necessary based on your hunger for the Kraut.
Knead in 2 tsp of picking salt per pound of cabbage. Kraut kneading is similar to wringing out a washcloth.
The salt will draw moisture out of the chopped cabbage. Don’t waste these juices, you need them for the fermentation process! You should have enough cabbage water to completely submerge your chopped cabbage without adding any extra..
Decant your cabbage with its juices into your bucket. The liquid should just cover the cabbage. To make sure it stays under, submerge the sauerkraut using your plate with a weight on top.
If you do need to add water to bring your water level up above the cabbage level, make sure you use water free of chlorine. Almost all tap water contains chlorine, so you will either want to boil it off then let the water cool, or use distilled water from the store.
As your sauerkraut ferments, check it every few days. Scrape off any scum you see, but don’t agonize about getting it all off – just get as much as you can.
Keep the Bugs Off
By covering your bucket with cheesecloth, or loosely capping with the lid it came with, you’ll keep insects off and keep most of the smell inside the bucket. Just don’t seal your sauerkraut in, because the CO2 needs to escape. Unless you want carbonated sauerkraut.
4 to 6 Weeks Later
Sauerkraut morphs in flavor as it ages. Typical time for fermentation is between 4 and 6 weeks. Taste it as it matures to see how its flavors are changing. Some people prefer the taste after just 4 weeks, while some like to wait the full 6.
Sauerkraut Shelf Life
Sauerkraut will last for 4 months in the fridge, and can be hot water canned in mason jars to preserve them even longer and at room temperature. Check with your canning manual to get exact canning times.
What about Smaller Batches?
You can also make a tiny batch of sauerkraut right inside a mason jar. Discover how over on JarSpot.com.
Source for some photos: JamesandEverett.com