Skip to comments.King of Kraut: Bumper Cabbage Crop Fills Sauerkraut Jars
Posted on 09/15/2009 9:17:23 AM PDT by nickcarraway
Talk to local gardeners, and theyre going to talk about the late spring and the unusually cool summer growing season. In that monologue, youre going to hear about the so-so onions and slow tomatoes, but also about the stupendous production of cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower.
Charles Szakacs reaped the benefits of a cool growing season when his Copenhagen cabbages more than doubled their weight and size. These select giant cabbages weighed around 19 pounds, but more came in at 15 and 16 pounds a head.
I picked one batch of 14 cabbages that weighed 183 pounds, he said.
On the family homestead between Caputa and Farmingdale, Szakacs plants a quarter-acre garden. Only 120 feet from Rapid Creek, he is able to irrigate the entire garden daily over several hours. He adds compost to the soil to keep the weeds down. Its surrounded by a 6-foot chain-link fence to keep the deer out. An electrified wire on top of the fence keeps the raccoons out of the corn.
Inside of this fenced plot is a cornucopia of vegetables. My father liked to garden, Szakacs said.
His garden includes 180 tomato plants, 1,200 onions, beets, cucumbers, asparagus and potatoes.
She (wife Marion Grant) got me started gardening nine years ago and I got carried away, Szakacs said.
This year, his 100 Copenhagen and 225 cabbages produced a bumper crop for his favorite condiment sauerkraut.
The only reason why they got this big was because of the cool weather, he said.
Using a giant-sized mandolin slicer, he runs his cabbages through in a matter of minutes, creating a raw cabbage slaw that is crisp and pungent. He will grate about four of his large cabbages 75 pounds of slaw for his 10-gallon crock that will eventually be packed and salted. Then it will be left to ferment for three weeks.
Out of that, Ill get roughly 60 quarts of sauerkraut, he said.
Each quart jar weighs about two pounds, including the jar. Dozens of jars of golden sauerkraut gleam in their glass containers, ready to add biting flavor to sausages, kielbasa and hot dogs.
Yeah, I got a lot of friends who like it, Szakacs said. Howard Nold started me three years ago making the stuff. He was so busy he couldnt make it, so he started me.
Luckily, Szakacs loves to cook.
His mother was an organizer of the local 4-H clubs and a member of the South Dakota Cowbelles, where she served as a state officer. Gardening and cooking were introduced into Szakacs life at an early age. He generally does his picking on the weekends, prepping the produce for drying, freezing or canning, then begins the canning process. His jars not only fill the pantry shelves, but offer other healthful benefits.
I work in construction and I do this for a hobby to relieve stress, he said.
You dont need gigantic cabbages to make sauerkraut, but it helps. Charles Szakacs reaped the benefits of a cool spring and summer with cabbages that were more than twice the size expected. He offers his simple recipe for sauerkraut.
75 pounds cabbage, cored and grated
2-1/4 cups pickling salt
Caraway seeds, optional
1 10-gallon crock
A fitted lid for the crock
Wash, core and cut out blemishes of 75 pounds of cabbage. Grate into a rough slaw and set aside. Layer the slaw cabbage into the bottom of the 10-gallon crock, salting the layer with about 2 tablespoons of pickling salt. Sprinkle lightly with caraway seeds. Pack down tightly and go to next layer. Continue in the manner for the first 50 pounds of cabbage. Szakacs said he has used about 1-1/2 cups pickling salt at this point.
For the next 25 pounds, use 3/4 cup salt to sprinkle each layer lightly, using only several teaspoons on each layer. Pack the cabbage slaw tightly. When finished, cover with cheesecloth, cover cheesecloth with lid and keep lid weighted with an 8-pound weight.
During the three weeks of fermenting, take the cheesecloth out each day to wash, wring out and replace. Pack the cabbage and replace cheesecloth on top of cabbage, replace lid and add weights. Change cheesecloth and pack cabbage daily.
At the end of three weeks, its ready for canning.
It will take about 7-1/2 hours to can that entire crock, Szakacs said.
Hot-Pack Method from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Prepare canner, jars and lids.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, bring sauerkraut, with brine, to a simmer over medium-high heat. Do not boil. Pack hot sauerkraut and brine into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch or 1 cm headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more brine. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process pint jars for 10 minutes and quart jars for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Fermentation may take up to six weeks, depending on atmospheric conditions and variations in the cabbage itself.
A jar lifter is very helpful for handling hot, wet jars. Because they are bulky and fit loosely, oven mitts even water-resistant types are not a wise choice. When filling jars, an all-purpose rubber glove, worn on your helper hand, will allow you to steady the jar.
A clear plastic ruler, kept solely for kitchen use, will help you determine the correct headspace. Each filled jar should be measured accurately, as the headspace can affect sealing and the preservation of the contents.
Marion Grant and her husband, Charles Szakacs, are both avid gardeners. Szakacs grew a cabbage this season that weighed more than 18 pounds. His garden is on a quarter-acre of his familyâs land near Caputa. Szakacs has taken to making sauerkraut with his abundance of cabbage.
Fire up the grill. This demands brats.
fill up them cabbage racks
Looks like a great year for corned beef and cabbage. It’ll bring out the Irish in you.
If you ever get the chance you must visit The Ohio Sauerkraut Festival!
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it and I just ate lunch!
I began feeling flatulent just reading that.. :)
Yep, I’m suddenly getting a craving for some good old Polish Bigos.
We just found a new source of natural gas: Chuck Szakacs.
Gross...my Mom and Sister loved that stuff. I couldn’t get past the obnoxious smell, always had to leave the house.
‘I began feeling flatulent just reading that.. :)’
“You are not by yourself, Al Gore will be really mad.
There could be a lot of CO2 released in the cooking of the methane producing Kraut!”
They said South Dakota will help resolve the energy crisis and they were right.
Now that looks like first class tailgating grub!!
Pork, potatoes and sauerkraut. Mmmmmm. Those things are way too big for halupkas though. My mom would faint.
How can people take something perfectly wonderful like cabbage and turn it into...SAUERKRAUT? Yuuuucccckkkk.
I thought this might interest a few on the Weekly Gardening thread. Thanks to SLB for the tip.
I do like cabbage but my wife does not like it except in a slaw. Any slaw recipes out there?
I use the smallest head I can get - cut it in quarters slather the sides with butter and salt and pepper and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and microwave 3.5 to 4.0 min. Yum!
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