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your cabbage smashing techniques please?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
deary me, i cannot get this part right! my cabbage goes everywhere when i smash it, and it seems there is never enough liquid to cover/almost cover the cabbage in the jar.

what in the world am i doing wrong? is there any hope? how do you smash your cabbage and what do you use to do it?
post #2 of 17
I make kimchee instead of sauerkraut, so I'm using napa cabbage instead of green cabbage, and napa is more tender, but my cheating way is to salt the cabbage and then put a weight on it and let it sit for several hours. I've done overnight on the countertop and in the frig, and at least for napa, it works great.
post #3 of 17
The way Magelet taught me was to liberally salt it and then pound, tasting and adding salt as you go. I use a qt mason jar in my really big metal bowl. You probably dont want to use a jar in a glass/ceramic bowl though, it might break or chip - use something metal.

It takes a little while, you have to have patience. Your cabbage will go from dry looking wet, almost like a piece of paper that has absorbed oil - that glossy wet look. But it takes me something like 20 minutes to get there.
post #4 of 17
What I've noticed.... green cabbage juices well, red not so much. I need to add extra salt water to red.

I put my shredded cabbage in a large bowl with the salt and massage it LOL I squish it and massage it til it gets super juicy.

Then pack it into a quart jar and use something to pound it down until the liquid is above the matter. I use the end of a one piece wooden rolling pin.

Our local WAPF sells homemade kraut pounders to fund our group. They are based on a German design:

http://www.krautpounder.com/page2.html

Rhianna
post #5 of 17
what cristeen said .

I use a heavy drinking glass or mason jar in a metal bowl most of the time. When those are missing, I've used a klean kanteen in a glass bowl. The main thing being that one of the surfaces, should you pound too hard, is able to bend out of the way, (never had it happen, it's a theoretical safety precaution, but glass on glass/ceramic does see unsafe) rather than cause it to shatter or chip all over your cabbage and hands and such.

By putting the salt on first, it starts to pull the juices out of the cabbage right away, so as you pound, more juices are drawn out more efficiently. It always ends up being enough liquid to cover, when I really pack it tightly down into the mason jar. and then it floats up again, but that's fine, I push it down the first few days, and then ignore it.

(also, I usually multi-task the pounding. reading, watching tv, reading mdc, while I do. if I had munchkins old enough, I'd outsource it to them.)
post #6 of 17
I've tried several different objects (a weighted jar, a rolling pin with a blunt end, a tart shaper) to smash cabbage for sauerkraut but nothing worked so well as using my hands! I just squeeze the cabbage in large handfuls and sprinkle on salt as I go. I also found that letting it rest intermittently - 5 minutes squeezing, 5 minutes resting - made a HUGE difference and I was able to get much more juice out with less salt that way.
post #7 of 17
I like the blunt rolling pin (but I haven't tried my hands):

http://www.amazon.com/J-K-Adams-PRP-...ref=pd_sim_k_5
post #8 of 17
For making sauerkraut? I just use the food processor. Pulse it in batches with the s-blade. Actually, last time I made it, I followe the Body Ecology starter instructions, and used no salt at all, it turned out perfectly cultured!
post #9 of 17
Quote:
You probably dont want to use a jar in a glass/ceramic bowl though, it might break or chip
And how. Ask my largest ceramic bowl how I know.
post #10 of 17
I shred it with my food processor then salt it and let it sit. I find I don't need to pound it at all. The fermentation takes a little longer though.

For kimchee (Napa) I soak the cabbage in salty water for 2 hours then rinse
post #11 of 17
This year's been a dry year, and I noticed that I don't get as much juice from the pouding. I've added extra brine to mine instead.
post #12 of 17
i use a potato masher, and liberally salt along the way as I'm adding cabbage to the bowl. I've got bubbles pre-24 hrs here, so pretty happy with the most recent batch! I think the salt really helped get the water out of the cabbage, and ours was def pretty dry. I think I've also heard that maybe late-season cabbage is better for kraut, but not sure why or if that's def what I read...

can I add a new question? If you're using quart canning jars, do you let the gasses build up and stretch out your bands or do you release some and then press the cabbage down beneath the liquid again (my cabbage is pushed up by the bubbles, and out of the liquid when I open the lid and the bubbles start escaping).
post #13 of 17
Yes I use quart jars, lids and bands for mine. Once put in jars and left out, I check daily by opening lid and listening for bubbles/popping. Depending on the weather/heat, the kraut is usually done in 2-3 days and then put in the fridge.

I've never noticed any stretched bands or that much built up gasses. And by opening the jar daily I guess I am releasing them.

Rhianna
post #14 of 17
I picked up an old wooden potato masher cheap at a yard sale and I use it with a big stainless steel bowl - using an oversize bowl helps contain the mess and no worries about breakage.
post #15 of 17
Thanks for the food processor tip! I made sauerkraut yesterday with cabbage, onion and carrot. First I just chopped the cabbage roughly with salt using the S-blade and planned to pound it all again in small quantities in the mortar and pestle... but after a few goes of that I got bored, thought "Eh" and put the mixture back in and pulverised it. SO much faster. I'm not sure I would have gotten enough juice without the onion and carrot, but... well, I had 'em, so it was fine.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhianna813 View Post
Yes I use quart jars, lids and bands for mine. Once put in jars and left out, I check daily by opening lid and listening for bubbles/popping. Depending on the weather/heat, the kraut is usually done in 2-3 days and then put in the fridge.

I've never noticed any stretched bands or that much built up gasses. And by opening the jar daily I guess I am releasing them.

Rhianna
really? hmmmm... how do I have super bubbly sauerkraut? lol i definitely open the lids at 24 hrs (or even before, and then usually once or twice more) to release the pressure on the lids, but then push the cabbage back down under the brine since it comes up with the bubbles. i've lost some of my brine when i haven't opened them frequently enough as it bubbles up and out if I can't release the air gradually enough. but I still get slightly stretched out bands. like, it's more difficult to line the threads up onto the jar - I can definitely tell when I'm using a brand new band. weird. I supposed I could just release the pressure more frequently when I feel/see the taut lids.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
wow! so many ideas and advice to think about. thank you so very much everyone!

i'm hoping to try again this month, so i'll update with my process soon.
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