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Sauerkraut once was dispensed in stores from the barrel as a raw food. Now that it is only available as a cooked, canned product its value as a food is mainly lost. Cooked cabbage in any form is a food to avoid, because persons with colitis or intestinal trouble cannot tolerate it.
Sauerkraut is made by packing shredded cabbage into stone jars, then adding two per cent of the cabbage weight in salt. It must be tamped down with a wood potato masher until the juice rises above the cabbage, after which an inverted plate is put on top with enough weight on it to keep the cabbage shreds immersed. Cabbage that is too low in juice to get this result must be given added water, plus the two per cent salt. The salt content is not important as to the effect on the fermentation, but it is important to proper flavor. Most sauerkraut is, in fact, salted too much.
Fermentation of the cabbage takes place best at 60 to 65 degrees F. If necessary, immerse the stone jar in a tub of cold water that is replaced daily. This temperature control is essential to the best quality and to prevent undesirable types of mold and yeasts from growing. A cloth must be used under the plate to cover the cabbage, and this should be removed and washed at intervals to eliminate mold that would otherwise penetrate the cabbage. Two weeks’ time is usually required to complete the fermentation.
Sauerkraut juice, by the way, is a tasty drink, properly made. Half sauerkraut juice with half tomato juice is very good, too.