(A revision of Circular 40)
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WILMON NEWELL, DIRECTOR.
MAKING AND USING SAUERKRAUT
By ISABELLE S. THURSBY
Extension Economist in Food Conservation
Florida farm and urban housewives alike, who are mindful
to make their daily meals more varied, more healthful, more ap-
petizing and to have their canning activities contribute further
to the economy of the home, particularly as a patriotic health
measure, will do well to cultivate the acquaintance of sauer-
kraut and sauerruben and serve these foods more frequently.
Sauerkraut and beet salad may be used as the basis of a simple meal.
Delicious served with mashed potatoes. See page 8 for the recipe.
2 Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Cabbage and turnips are perhaps two of our most commonly
grown vegetables, both in the home garden and in the trucking
field. With thoughtful attention these vegetables may be
changed into a valuable, economical, easily prepared and easily
Sauerkraut is shredded cabbage which has undergone a lactic
fermentation in the brine made from its own juice by the addi-
tion of salt. It is healthful, appetizing and easily digested. Its
mild acid is recognized and recommended by the medical pro-
fession generally as a very desirable intestinal antiseptic. Sauer-
kraut is a fair source of vitamins A, B and C and the lactic acid
tends to prevent their destruction in cooking. Because of the
chemical changes which take place in the process of fermenta-
tion the flavor is decidedly different from the raw cabbage
from which it is made. In fact, many people find saurekraut the
more palatable of the two, for this reason. Sauerkraut is always
appetizing, with good mineral values and many possibilities for
If properly handled, fermented, and then stored in air-tight
containers, sauerkraut of excellent quality can be produced at
home. The essential points are the use of fresh, sound, mature
cabbage, scrupulous cleanliness throughout the process, and
prompt and proper care of the product after the fermentation
is complete. Fairly rapid fermentation and promptness in can-
ning after fermentation are most important. Canning is simple
and insures a good supply of kraut throughout the year.
Cutting Appliances.-Food choppers, hand slicing machines,
kraut cutters and knives may be used for cutting or shredding
the cabbage. Regular kraut cutters that shave the cabbage
thinly and rapidly are to be preferred. They may be purchased
with sliding box and cover and with 3 or 4 blades for as little
as $2.25. Excellent slaw cutters are often available for 50 cents.
Containers.-Stoneware open jars or crocks, malted milk and
other large containers are suitable for kraut making. The one
gallon and three gallon sizes are best for home use. A circular
piece of wood should be cut for each jar to act as a float on
which a weight is placed to keep the product submerged. A
plate can be used in place of this wooden disc.
Making and Using Sauerkraut
Water-tight kegs or barrels are best for making large quanti-
ties. They may be had in all sizes from 5 to 100 gallons. New
hardwood barrels or new paraffin lined spruce barrels are recom-
If second-hand barrels are used they must be treated to re-
move all undesirable odors and flavors. This may be done by
treating them with a solution of 1 ounce of sal-soda or 1/2 ounce
of lye per gallon of water. The barrel should be filled and the
solution allowed to remain in the barrel for several days until
it smells "sweet". The barrel should then be thoroughly "soaked
out" with hot or cold water. If spruce or pine barrels are used
they must be coated with paraffin to prevent the kraut from ac-
quiring an undesirable taste. The paraffin may be melted and
put on with a brush.
Glass top fruit jars are often used for making kraut. These
are packed lightly, yet firmly to within 1 or 1% inch of the flow.
However, the bales are often rusted and it is recommended that
other type jars be used for this reason. Mason type jars and
various modifications-jars with zinc screw caps and porcelain
linings-are not desirable because the zinc or other metallic
cap is corroded by the acids in the brine. ZINC SALTS THUS
FORMED ARE POISONOUS. If a zinc cap is used it must be
Note.-Do not stand glass jars in the sun, as the light may kill the
A pair of kitchen scales and a quart or gallon liquid measure
complete the necessary equipment.
PROPORTIONS AND METHOD
1 pound of salt with 40 pounds of cabbage
2 ounces (3% tablespoons) with 5 pounds cabbage
2 level teaspoons with 1 pound cabbage
1 pound fills 1 pint glass jar
12-quart crock holds 10 pounds or more
Remove outside green, dirty or bruised leaves. Quarter the
head and slice off the core. Shred the cabbage finely and put 5
pounds of cabbage and 2 ounces of salt in a large pan and mix
until the juices flow freely. Pack gently in the crock with a po-
tato masher. Repeat until crock is nearly full. The shredded
cabbage should be exposed to the air as little as possible, for ex-
posing it at any time reduces the amount of vitamin C in the fer-
mented product and causes loss of color, texture and flavor.
Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Cover with a clean cloth, plate and weight. Fermentation starts
usually within a day after packing, as is evidenced by the forma-
tion of gas bubbles on the surface. Although fermentation is
more rapid at higher temperatures, more spoilage is likely to
occur. The best quality kraut is produced at 70 or lower. It
requires a month usually for the kraut to cure properly at this
temperature. In warm weather, of course, it cures very quickly.
Never add water to cabbage when making kraut.
DAILY CARE MUST BE GIVEN TO SAUERKRAUT. RE-
MOVE the SCUM as it forms and WASH and SCALD the CLOTH
as often as necessary to remove the mold and scum. The scum
may develop very rapidly during warm weather unless removed
daily and would destroy the acidity and break down the vege-
table beneath. When bubbling stops, fermentation is complete.
A good way to determine this is to tap the receptacle gently. If
no bubbles arise, fermentation is finished.
Packing is often the cause of much unnecessary bruising and
tearing of shreds and results in softening of the kraut. A wooden
tamper is good to use and with it the kraut should be firmly
pressed or pushed down to force out the air but not pounded
until juice is produced. Ordinarily, pounding is not necessary
to draw out the juice for if the salt is added as directed it will
draw out more than enough juice to cover the cabbage by the
time the container is filled. When the container is filled the
juice should come to the surface.
Quick Method for Small Amounts.-Mix 1 pound at a time
(1 pound cabbage with 2 level teaspoons salt) and pack in pint
glass jar. Partially seal. Set in a granite pan as some of the
brine may overflow. When fermentation ceases (6 to 8 days),
add enough brine, if the jars are not full, to completely fill
them. Seal and process 15 minutes below boiling (1800 F.). Seal.
When the jar is opened reheat the kraut and it will be ready to
Note.-If a cool, dark and well ventilated storage space is available
and the kraut is only held through the season, processing is not impera-
tive. The jars of kraut must be filled to overflowing with additional
brine to exclude air and be kept full.
CANNING IN GLASS
Canning offers the best means of preserving sauerkraut. The
kraut may be packed in sterilized glass jars. Enough of the
kraut juice, or a weak brine made by adding an ounce (2 table-
Making and Using Sauerkraut
spoons) salt to a quart of water, should be heated to simmering
in a covered kettle, packed hot, sealed immediately and processed
10 minutes at simmering. Cool as rapidly as possible.
CANNING IN TIN
It is essential that the oxygen (air) which affects the color
and condition of the canned product and acts on the metal of the
can, be driven off as completely as possible before the can is
sealed. This is secured in the exhaust. The better the exhaust
the greater will be the vacuum and the smaller the quantity of
oxygen. Additional heating after sealing should not be carried
to the point of darkening the product and destroying its crisp-
ness. Brining of cabbage (and turnips) is marked by increased
crispness, a greater degree of translucency and a characteristic
acid flavor. It should be firm in texture but not tough, and
TURNIP SAUERKRAUT (SAUERRUBEN)
Process No. 1-Use the Purple Top turnips and Shogoin pre-
ferably. Select those in perfect condition, young, tender, sweet
and juicy, and use as soon after being pulled as possible. Wash
well and remove all green part from top. Do not peel them.
Shred finely as for cabbage sauerkraut, or grind the turnips.
Weigh and allow Y pound of salt for 10 pounds turnips, or use
3 scant tablespoons or 2 % ounces of salt to 5 pounds of turnips
and mix thoroughly. Pack firmly in a stone jar, wooden, or
other container. Fit a wooden cover or plate inside the container
and place a weight on that. Leave covered at room temperature
until fermentation is over. Follow the same recommendations
for canning turnip sauerkraut as for cabbage sauerkraut.
Process No. 2.-The shredded turnips mixed thoroughly with
the salt may be packed firmly into glass jars, leaving about an
inch of head space in the top. Place covers on top but leave the
bale unfastened in order to allow the gas which forms during
fermentation to escape. Jars should be set in a flat pan to catch
the juice which may be forced out. As soon as fermentation is
over, can as directed in quick method.
STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR
Salt Content.-The addition of salt to cabbage is essential to
the production of sauerkraut. Salt is necessary to cause the
withdrawal of the juice and to give the proper flavor, and should
Florida Agricultural Extension Service
be free from contaminating salts and lime which have a tendency
to neutralize the acid formed. There are any number of grades
of purity in salt, from the chemically pure salt to the cheapest
of cattle salts.
So-called dairy salt is most satisfactory for kraut making.
Table salt is too expensive and is undesirable because it has
had something added to prevent caking. Caked or lumpy salt
should not be used for sauerkraut as it cannot be equally dis-
tributed. It is most essential that both the salt and the cabbage
be accurately weighed and then combined in the proportions
Acidity.-The most important factor in the quality of sauer-
kraut is the acid it contains. Sauerkraut should be sour with a
pleasant, typical aroma when fully cured. Acid is formed pri-
marily from the sugar, contained in the cabbage. Salt, when
added to shredded cabbage, through osmotic action withdraws
the juices of the vegetable, including the sugars held in solution.
The lactic bacteria attack this sugar and form lactic acid. A
proper degree of acidity in sauerkraut is absolutely essential to
its flavor; without this it becomes flat and insipid.
The Cut of Kraut.-While the acidity and salt content are
controlling factors in the flavor of sauerkraut, the cut also is
important. Thinness in cut is a desirable feature unless carried
to an extreme which would make the product soft and mushy.
A cut about the thickness of a dime has come to be a standard
fixed by a number of manufacturers of kraut. This cut is ap-
proximately 1/32 of an inch.
Storage of Kraut.-If the original fine quality of kraut is to
be retained the product must be stored in a place that is not only
cool and well ventilated but is clean, dark and dry.
WAYS OF USING SAUERKRAUT
Sauerkraut suggests pig's knuckle, spareribs and frankfurters,
but there are many other uses for this appetizing, economical
food. It may serve as the base for a one-dish meal as is given in
several recipes following. Combined with cheese and left-over
mashed potatoes it makes a satisfying and low-cost dish that is
easily and quickly prepared. Savory sauerkraut is made by
heating a quarter of a cupful of fat in a skillet and then adding
a quart of sauerkraut and 1/2 teaspoon of celery or caraway seed.
This is well mixed and covered while being cooked for 5 minutes.
Making and Using Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut can be cooked in a casserole with alternate layers
of noodles and a top layer of ground pork sausage. It may also
be fried or combined with bacon, ham or cured meat. In some
sections of the South, and in Pennsylvania also, sauerkraut is
always served with the Christmas turkey, while in Europe it
steps out of the modest role so often associated with it here to
serve as the accompaniment of the patrician pheasant, partridges,
goose liver patties, liver dumplings, fried liver, and baked fish.
Sauerkraut is an ancient and highly honored food that has been
popular for ages. It is not only a poor man's dish but is a medi-
cinal agent for the pampered stomachs of the rich. Sauerkraut
juice ranks high as a pre-breakfast tonic in leading eating places.
SAUERKRAUT WITH SPARERIBS
Brown the pieces of spareribs, fresh or canned, on each side
in a frying pan with pork fat. Season the meat with a little salt,
pepper and poultry seasonings; place half of the kraut in a cas-
serole, add the meat, then the balance of the kraut and boiling
water to cover. Bake in a slow oven about two hours, closely
covered, and serve with mashed potatoes. Frankfurters may be
used instead of spareribs, if desired.
SAUERKRAUT MEAT PIE
1 quart sauerkraut 12 small pork sausages
Place 2 can of kraut in bottom of baking dish, sprinkle with
tablespoon flour. Add remainder of kraut dusted with one table-
spoon flour; on this place 12 small sausages nicely browned.
Add one cup hot water. Cover all with crust made of your fav-
orite baking powder biscuit dough. Bake 1/ hour. Serve with
brown gravy made with sausage drippings.
1 quart sauerkraut 1/4 cup butter
/4 teaspoon celery or caraway seed
Heat the butter in a skillet until golden brown and add the
kraut and the seasoning. Mix well, using a fork to separate the
kraut. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
SAUERKRAUT AND CARROT SALAD
2 cups sauerkraut
/2 cup unbroken pecan
8 medium carrots
1 cup cream dressing
8 Florida Agricultural Extension Service
After washing and scraping carrots, run them through the
coarse knife of a food chopper. Combine with sauerkraut. Add
cream dressing. Decorate with pecan halves.
SAUERKRAUT AND FISH SALAD
1 cup flaked fish 1 cup sauerkraut
(mullet, mackerel, flounder) % cup diced celery
1 tablespoon chopped pickle 2 tablespoons onion juice
or a few stuffed olives
Combine ingredients and serve with cooked dressing on let-
tuce leaves. Red snapper or any cold, cooked fish may be used.
SAUERKRAUT AND BEET SALAD
3% cups sauerkraut Lettuce
12 cups diced cooked beets Mayonnaise
/4 cup minced onion
Mix sauerkraut with beets and onion; allow to stand for a
half hour. Serve on lettuce with mayonnaise. Six to eight servings.