Sauerkraut: Keeping alive an old tradition

To quote the old Bob Dylan song, “The times they are a changin’.”

They are changing for so many reasons, not the least of which is COVID-19 which has caused the shortage of certain items at the supermarket. Items that once were plentiful.

The uncertainty of the times in which we live has necessitated the need for some families to bring back the practices of their grandparents and great-grandparents of growing and preserving their own food. An idea that has seemingly caught on as of late with many young adults

Kayla tamps the cabbage into the crock.

Such is the case of Kayla Byrd of Pulaski. She and her husband, Forrest planted a garden this year and have preserved much of their harvest.

“Forrest loves sauerkraut, and wanted me to try making and canning it,” said Byrd. “I knew my Nana knew how to make it so I asked her for help.”

Unfortunately, the rabbits and groundhogs ate the cabbage the couple planted this year, so they purchased 50 pounds of cabbage from Poor Boys Produce and Plants, a local produce market in Pulaski.

“Kayla asked me a while back to teach her how to can,” said her Nana, Brenda Horton of Pulaski. “I was happy to. I want to teach my grandchildren the old ways, they will always be able to feed themselves. Forrest also hunts,” said Horton.

“I won’t be here forever,” Horton added with a smile.

“My PawPaw would have been very proud of me for planting a garden and canning what we grow,” said Kayla, speaking of the late Jack Horton, owner of NRV Septic Tank Service.

“I liked making memories with Nana, and  learning how to take care of my family,” said Kayla, which includes her son Colton and daughter Kenzie.

If you would like to make your own sauerkraut their recipe is below.

Did you know sauerkraut is very nutritional and healthy for you?

During the fermentation process, beneficial probiotics or live bacteria, are produced and these probiotics are what give sauerkraut most of its healthy benefits. Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fiber and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

Step #1

 Fermentation process:

Wash cabbage

Trim away bad places

Cut into chunks

Discard stalks (hard center)

Shred or chop cabbage

Weigh out 5 pounds of cabbage, per 5 pounds – Add 3 Tablespoons of regular salt

Mix well

Pack in crock (if you do not have a crock a very large glass jar will do – NO METAL) and tamp down.

Continue to pack in 5 lbs. at a time. When finished cover with a clean white cloth.

Weigh top of filled crock down with a freezer bag containing 1/2 bag of water  and 2 Tablespoons of salt. The reason for this is if the bag should burst, it will add more water and salt, not just plain water which could ruin the taste of the sauerkraut.

Seal well by covering with an additional white cloth then tie a piece of twine around the top or mouth of the crock or jar. Making it as airtight as possible. Then cover the crock or jar with a white unscented trash bag.

As the sauerkraut works (ferments) water will come to the surface and pour over the top. Horton recommends placing the container on trash bags covered with newspapers. Change as needed during fermentation. Let sit 5-6 weeks. Horton put the crock she used on her back porch.

Step #2

 Canning Sauerkraut:

After 5-6 weeks of fermentation water will no longer pour over the edge of the crock, the sauerkraut is ready to be canned.

Take sauerkraut out of crock

Heat sauerkraut in a pot

Fill jars and seal with lids

Put in pressure canner – process for 10 minutes at 5 lbs. pressure for pints

Or you may use a boiling water bath for 15 for pints

When safe remove from canner or water bath and set in draft free area to cool.


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The finished product, 50 pounds of cabbage yielded 36 pints of sauerkraut.

Top Photo:

Pictured are Kayla Byrd and her Nana, Brenda Horton of Pulaski.