Sauerkraut for the Holidays!

If you are like me, you received a beautiful head of cabbage in your CSA box this week.

I’m often a bit confused by cabbage.  I like it, but I don’t often make Cole Slaw, which is usually why I would buy cabbage.  I’ve started adding cabbage to the top of fish tacos – but that only takes a small amount, so…

Sauerkraut to the rescue!!!!

Living in the South, I’m sure we’ve all been subjected to the dreaded “Kraut and Wennies” on occasion, yes?  Well, I decided that’d I’d like to make a big girl version of this classic dish to serve during the holidays.  I plan to serve my homemade sauerkraut alongside some local Link 41 Sausage, for a hearty and heart-warming holiday meal.

However, the key to Sauerkraut, I learned, is TIME!  Which is why it is a good idea to start now.  As in, right now!

Here is a standard Sauerkraut recipe that I started on last night from

As the recipe explains, it takes weeks (sometimes months) to ferment the cabbage to your liking.  But the prep time is minimal, so get started now and enjoy this dish long into the month of December.

*This recipe is for 5lbs of cabbage (whoa!) – so I reduced mine to just a pound and a half or so and 2-3 teaspoons of salt.*


Making Sauerkraut

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)

dsc-6314Special Equipment:

  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
  • Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):

  • 5 pounds cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt


  1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. I love to mix green and red cabbage to end up with bright pink kraut. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.
  3. Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables I’ve added include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.
  4. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  5. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
  6. Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  7. Leave the crock to ferment. I generally store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
  8. Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. Many books refer to this mold as “scum,” but I prefer to think of it as a bloom. Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. In the cool temperatures of a cellar in winter, kraut can keep improving for months and months. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant.
  9. Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks. Try the sauerkraut juice that will be left in the bowl after the kraut is eaten. Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic. Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully. Make sure the kraut is packed tight in the crock, the surface is level, and the cover and weight are clean. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary. Some people preserve kraut by canning and heat-processing it. This can be done; but so much of the power of sauerkraut is its aliveness that I wonder: Why kill it?
  10. Develop a rhythm. I try to start a new batch before the previous batch runs out. I remove the remaining kraut from the crock, repack it with fresh salted cabbage, then pour the old kraut and its juices over the new kraut. This gives the new batch a boost with an active culture starter.



Leafy Green Vegetables-Powerhouse of Nutrition

Leafy green vegetables are the greatest powerhouse of nutrition we can imagine and our rich in compounds that battle cancer. They are essential to our health and well-being. Some of the varieties are cabbages, turnips, beets, mustard and lettuces. They are all so versatile and easy to prepare. You can eat most every part of the greens.

In the South, there is an entire cuisine structured around collard greens. Don’t throw out the juice produced from cooking Collards and mustard greens. It is called pot liquor, it has a garden, tangy taste which illuminates the taste buds in a good way. Pot liquor is good for the skin and digestive system and is a natural laxative. What I love to do is dip a big piece of home-made cornbread in it, makes my mouth water thinking about it!

Leafy greens enliven any dish. Its like stirring sunshine into dinner. Leafy greens can be braised, simmered, steamed, sautéed, stewed, stir fried, grilled, roasted or when young eaten raw in winter salads. Greens have played a role on the world stage of cuisine for generations. While overlooked or used as garnish by most American chefs, in other cultures, the crunchy leaves inspire classic dishes like “caldo Verde”, a Portuguese soup of potatoes, white beans, and kale. In Brazil, kale braised and served with the gloriously smoky black bean stew “Feijoada”. And there is Red Russian kale with its flat purple tipped leaves, tender stems and added magnesium to keep our nerves from getting frazzled…..and mixed into stir fried dishes or salads will change your opinion of greens for ever!

Swiss chard, beet and turnip tops are rich in iron. Asian greens with brilliant colors, amazing flavors and a variety of textures make the perfect salad with a beautiful presentation. Pak Choi, which is the same as bok choy, can be stir fried with fresh garlic and sesame oil, so easy and quick, it is my new favorite vege!

We can not forget about green smoothies! You can add any of the fall and winter greens to your smoothie for that huge boost of nutrients in one glass. Will post more information on green smoothies in the near future.

Some easy winter meals to consider. Saute a variety of greens with onion and garlic and serve over a bed of pasta. Simmer a big pot of variety of greens and serve with your favorite beans and hot cornbread. Add 1 tbsp of Miso to your cooked greens for added flavor and nutrition.

Greens Rock! Have fun trying new greens and experimenting with new recipes. Thanks to Living the well life, for some good info and ideas!

Bacon, Kale and Turkey Soup

Put your leftovers AND this week’s CSA basket to good use with this delicious stew from The Kitchn.

Bacon, Kale, & Turkey Stew
serves 6

3 thick slices bacon, cut into small strips
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
10 ounces kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 to 3 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken meat

4 to 5 cups turkey or chicken broth, ideally homemade
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, to serve

Place a heavy 5-quart or larger pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently. When it has released much of its fat, but before it has gotten crispy, add the diced onion, minced garlic, and the bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, for at least 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened and become golden.

Add the kale, handful by handful, stirring to coat it with bacon fat. If it won’t all fit at once, keep stirring until it wilts down. Sprinkle the kale lightly with salt and pepper and the smoked paprika. When all the kale has been added, stir in the shredded turkey or chicken meat, and cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to make sure that the kale is coated with the bacon fat and letting the onions and shredded turkey brown slightly.

Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the soup is hot.

Serve with shredded Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Criss Cross, (Cranberry) Applesauce

There are apples galore  in the fields and at the markets these days!  It’s a great time to stock up on your favorite varieties and turn them into tasty applesauce for the winter.  We threw some cranberries in our batch for color and taste.

Cranberry Applesauce

By:  Rachel McCrickard & Lucky Rouse


  • Apples (combination of  Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, or other sweet variety)
  • Cranberries
  • Cinnamon


For the best canning advice (sans your grandmother), I always use:  They are an excellent resource for step-by-step canning instructions.  If you are new to canning, I recommend that you go there for a complete list of utensils and guidance.

I’ll summarize here:

Wash and chop apples (leave the skin on).  Put an inch of water in a large pot and fill the pot with the apples and cranberries (the apples mostly cook in their own juice, so there is no need to add a lot of water).  Put the lid on the pot and cook apples on high, until they begin to sizzle and cook, then turn the heat down to medium high.  Cook the apples until they are soft.

At this point, Lucky and I just mashed the apples with a potato masher, rather that using a sieve to turn it in to “real” applesauce.  We like ours sorta chunky – but I recommend sieving the apples if small children will be eating the applesauce.  My 2 year old niece didn’t care too much for the chunky apples!

If you choose to keep your applesauce chunky, add cinnamon at this point, mash the apples and cranberries, stir, and begin the canning process.

If you like the smoother variety, check out the instructions on the link above to sieve the apples and then follow canning instructions to complete.

Then, enjoy the taste of Fall, all through the Winter!