Sauerkraut Tips

If you mostly eat your kraut cold, don’t can it; just store it in the refrigerator or another cool place. A cellar, outbuilding, or porch may suffice, depending on the time of year and on your climate. Uncooked kraut retains its vitamin C and live microbes that can aid digestion.

If you can your kraut, use the low-temperature pasteurization method. Put the covered jars into a canner of water heated to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue to heat the water until it reaches 180 degrees. Maintain the temperature between 180 and 185 degrees for 30 minutes, and then remove the jars. This method helps keep the kraut from softening and also helps prevent the loss of liquid that’s so common with boiling-water processing as well as pressure canning.

Always thoroughly dry your washed crock, and especially the stoneware weights, in the sun.

About Linda Ziedrich

I grow, cook, preserve, and write about food in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
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6 Responses to Sauerkraut Tips

  1. Dear LInda, I am thinking of making saurcraut now (in September) for use this winter. I have a huge stoneware crock with a lid. Can I leave it outside? I will be making chourcroute garnie with it (which is hot) .
    Thanks, Mary Bartlett

    • Mary, provided you start the fermentation indoors, you can then move the crock outdoors and leave it there. Just check it often to remove any scum and to make sure the kraut remains covered in brine. If the weather turns so cold that the kraut might freeze, bring the crock indoors for a while.

  2. Monica Jaress says:

    Dear Linda,
    I have both your pickling and jam/jelly books. They are the most practical and thoughtful cookbooks I own. Thanks! I live in the Skagit Valley and have a large garden augmented with local produce – it’s great to have comments on varieties of fruit and vegetables you have used.
    I made sauerkraut this fall and canned some of it last weekend. I ended up losing brine in the canning process although I followed the directions – is the sauerkraut still safe to eat? I thought it might be due to the lids I used – they came with the jars and had indents in the rubber part. Should I re-can it with more brine? Do you often have to make more brine when canning sauerkraut?
    Thanks so much, Monica Jaress

    • Monica, the loss of brine is normal when you can sauerkraut. This is mainly an aesthetic problem; the sauerkraut is safe to eat. To prevent the loss of brine in the future, make sure you leave a half-inch of headspace in each jar. At the end of the boiling-water bath, turn off the heat and take the lid off the kettle, and then wait five minutes before removing the jars from the kettle. Better yet, use the low-temperature pasteurization method instead of a boiling-water bath: Immerse the jars in water heated to between 180 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. With the low-temperature method, you should be able to remove the jars from the kettle immediately without losing brine.

  3. DanO says:

    In the Joy of Pickling your Russian Kraut recipe calls for 3/4 cup cranberries, but the recipe doesn’t specify fresh or dried – is that meant to be 3/4 fresh? If so – what amount of dried would you recommend? My cabbage is ready too early this year for fresh cranberries!

    Thanks, Dan

  4. Yes, Dan, I meant fresh cranberries. You might try rehydrating dried ones, by soaking them in hot water for fifteen minutes or so, or you might try adding them to the sauerkraut dry, though this might necessitate adding brine, too. You’ll want to keep in mind that commercially dried cranberries are sweetened with sugar, though I don’t think the sugar would harm your kraut.

    Another alternative would be using thawed frozen cranberries, though they might be a little mushy.

    I’d love to hear how you proceed and how your kraut turns out.

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