Friday, June 1, 2012

Folklife Friday: Making Kraut

The few cabbage plants we planted this year did very well.  We have had lots of slaw and fried cabbage, but there was no way we could eat all that cabbage before it spoiled.  I made 24 pints of kraut to have after the garden is long gone.

My mom always canned lots of kraut.  It was a good source of vitamin C when we didn't have any fresh vegetables from the garden.  On special nights, it had sausage or hot dogs in it.

Grandma has a huge kraut cutter someone had made that fit perfectly over a wash tub.  So when the cabbage was ready, Mama would take all of us to Grandma's for a kraut making day.  We took turns running the cabbage over the blade of the kraut cutter, and the big tub filled up pretty quickly.  When half or more of the cabbage was shredded, some of us would go inside for the canning part.

The shredded cabbage was packed in sterilized quart jars.  A little canning salt was added, then boiling water was poured over it until it was covered.  A new lid was put on the jar, and it was turned upside down until it sealed. Afterwards, the cans were stored in the dark.  I remember one day when we made over eighty quarts.

The cabbage was cut outside under Grandma's big oak, and that part was kinda fun unless the sweat bees were bad.  The inside part--not so much fun, but we knew it had to be done.  Mama and Grandma would always remind us not to eat too much of the fresh cabbage--they knew a little girl who had died from it.  I don't know how much was too much, but we ate plenty and suffered no consequences.
Grandma would not allow anyone to help if they were having their period; she was convinced it would cause the kraut to go bad.  That might have been the only time when I was happy for the monthly 'visit'.

We have five more cabbages growing the garden.  I'm planning to make hot slaw with them.  My sons think hot slaw is the best thing I make, but that's a blog for another day.