I recently embarked on my latest attempt at making sauerkraut.
Let me tell you, this is my 3rd year attempting and I have yet to succeed.
That said, I now believe my prior attempts were not failures but simply my own lack of understanding... :-)
The first year, I failed because I decided to put the crock in the garage. Bugs got in.
The next year, I put the crock in the dining room where I thought I could better keep an eye on it. Mold formed, and I panicked a bit. Yes, it may have been a tad bit warm in the dining room (sauerkraut is best fermented at a temperature between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit), but I now understand that the mold needs to simply be skimmed off occasionally.
So, this year I'm totally prepared! I even have a good-luck charm: a true, old-fashioned crock which belonged to my grandma. The real deal that is supposed to be used when making sauerkraut. I can't go wrong now, can I???!!
I have also moved the fermentation area to a more ideal location. An unfinished room in our basement, where temperatures are most likely ideal.
To learn more about the history and process of making sauerkraut, here is a link to Wikipedia's sauerkraut entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut .
I love sauerkraut. My mom ate a lot of it when I was growing up, which turned into my eating it as well. It's so incredibly healthy for you, chock full of probiotics due to the lacto fermentation.
I grew the cabbage myself at the farm plot, so I know it's completely organic from start to finish.
Making sauerkraut only requires cabbage and salt, and patience while it ferments.
That's it! Just lots of pushing down on the cabbage to create a brine. I made sure the brine covered the cabbage, then I filled a plastic bag with water (to create a weight on top, the cabbage needs to be totally covered by the brine). I placed it in the basement and covered the top with cheesecloth to keep out any uninvited guests.
I checked on it after a few days and skimmed off any residue that had formed. Now I'll try to check on it every few days, or once a week at the least. Since I've never completed a batch, I'm unsure how long it will take, but I've read that it will be at least several weeks.
Wish me luck!