How to Preserve Cabbage

 

[O]ur CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmer — I love you Tonopah Rob — is experiencing what seems to be a bumper crop of cabbage this season and we have been inundated with the sweetest, most delicious tasting cabbage ever! In our efforts to eat seasonally and store as much as possible, I have been learning new and old ways on how to preserve the cabbage harvest.

Each Monday, after our farm share pick up over the weekend, I work to prepare the vegetables for the week’s meals. Today I have been elbow deep in shredded cabbage.

We’re making kraut!

I first learned how to make homemade sauerkraut from taking a Gnowfglins eCourse (which I highly recommend if you are at all interested in learning traditional cooking methods) and reading Nourishing Traditions.

To be honest, in the beginning I was intimidated by the whole thing.

It only requires cabbage, salt, and time…I don’t know what my deal was. Nonetheless, I stepped into the unknown for the sake of self-sufficient living, and the results were amazing!

Here’s a quick run down of the method I use for preserving cabbage. It’s super quick — like in and out of the kitchen in 30-45 minutes with 5 heads of cabbage fermenting quick — and it produces a very yummy and nutritious food that we enjoy for months after the harvest!

Sauerkraut Recipe

Ingredients

-1 large head of green or red cabbage
-1 tablespoon of  good quality sea salt

Method

1. Clean the cabbage head and then cut it into chunks. Remove the inner core and compost it — or you can save it for making stock. Thinly slice the cabbage by hand or run it through a food processor.

2. In a large bowl place the shredded cabbage and sea salt. Using a wooden kraut pounder or another blunt object, pound the cabbage for approximately 8 minutes until all of the natural juices are released. Tip: I set the kitchen timer for this one.

3. Place the cabbage and all of it’s juice into a quart-sized glass jar. Press down on the cabbage so that the juices will rise above it. Place the lid on the jar.

4. Put your jars of fermenting cabbage in the cupboard or on the pantry shelf (just be sure it’s somewhere away from heat or light. Let it stay there for 3-5 days before moving to cold storage (i.e. the refrigerator). Tip: Starting on day 3, I like to taste the kraut. Once it has that fermented tang, and tastes like sauerkraut, I know it’s done.

Interested to learn more about fermenting foods? Find you answers here…

Other Ways to Preserve Cabbage

Other than fermenting and making saurkraut, you can also freeze or dehydrate your cabbage.

Freezing

To freeze cabbage you process it in the same way you do if you were to make sauerkraut…clean, cut, shred. Once shredded, blanch the cabbage for 3 minutes in boiling water. Strain and cool, then store in a freezer safe container.

You can use frozen cabbage in soup and casserole recipes — I don’t recommend it for slaw.  

Dehydrating

Dehydrated cabbage is easy to store and use. Like many other veggies, cabbage can be dried outside on drying racks or screens, in a oven set to a very low temperature, by use of a solar sun oven, or in a dehydrator. Dehydrated cabbage can be used medicinally or for culinary purposes. There are several nice dehydrators available on the market; however, why not use the sun…it’s free!

When dehydrating cabbage prepare it the same as for fermenting and freezing. You can either shred or grate the cabbage, then you’ll want to steam it for a couple of minutes just before spreading it out to dry. Dehydrate on low — 100-110°F — until crisp. Store in a cool, dark place in airtight containers. Tip: We’ve had great success storing dried fruits and veggies in glass jars, or mylar bags, with oxygen absorbers. This method is great for long-term storage! 

So what to do with dried cabbage? Well, it can be eaten as it is — it’s actually very nutritious and it provides a tasty treat for snacking. We love to take it backpacking on the trail (it’s super lightweight), it’s great on camping trips, and we add it to soups and stews in the fall.

How do you preserve cabbage? Share with us your tips and tricks!

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Comments

  1. I am hosting my 2nd blog hop and would love it if you would share this with my followers. I love cabbage and can’t wait to try this. Have a wonderful day. Diane @ MamalDiane.com

  2. Can it be processed in a canner at that point? How long will it keep?

    • Andrea says:

      I wouldn’t recommend processing this particular recipe in a pressure canner. The heat would kill the goodness that is developed through the fermentation process. However, there are a few really good recipes for pickled cabbage out in Internet land :)

  3. Last year we had huge cabbages, I made several large batched of cabbage rolls for freezing, shredded cabbage (cooked and frozen) and THEN we decided to dehydrate! It was a success, however, I didn’t steam it, so thanks for that tip, will try that next time we have an abundance of cabbage. I used it for soups and stews, and still have lots left.

  4. You should tryKorean Sauerkraut (Kimchi) too. Recipes are available on the web or in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. It is awesome and once the vegetables (cabbage in kraut or mixed veg in kimchi) it keeps for longer than we can keep it on our shelves. Fermentation is a wonderful way to preserve vegetables.

    • Andrea says:

      Oh Gemma! We do love Kimchi :) As soon as peppers come into harvest, which should be soon here, I’ll make a few jars! Okay…now my mouth is literally watering just thinking about it!

  5. Danielle says:

    Q: does the pressure from the fermentation cause the lid to bubble out? We make kraut open crock style and ferment 14 days. There is a lot of gases and foaming that take place, we also use layers of sliced horse radish to hinder molding.

    • Andrea says:

      Horseradish…yumm! I’ve never had trouble with it bubbling out. You’re right about the gases and such — all those good enzymes and probiotics coming to life :) I can see them bubbling in the jar! I’ve read a lot about fermenting in a crock, just haven’t gotten that far with it :)

      • Danielle says:

        Oddly the horse radish root doesn’t leave behind any flavor. I also add fresh dill springs to my crocks. its tons of fun, and the kids love climbing in the crocks with clean barefeet to smoosh the juices out :-)

  6. I just tried making my first saurkraut using cabbage from my garden. It’s nice to see that I did it the same way as you! I, too, was intimidated by the process–no idea why. It’s been sitting for 3 days now, and it’s already starting to smell a bit like saurkaut. :)

  7. My grandmother told me that she used to make it in the hall closet!

    • Andrea says:

      LOVE it! I love hearing all the tips and tricks that our Grandmothers and Great-Grandmothers used :)

  8. I am also wondering if you can then put it in a waterbath or pressure cooker to seal the jar. I would like to make several jars of it but couldn’t store all of them in the refrigerator.

  9. I’m curious to know if you sterilized the utensils, bowl, jar and lid first. Is this necessary or does the fermentation process kill off any bacteria?

  10. I have frozen whole heads of cabbage and used the outer leaves for cabbage rolls. Just let the whole thing defrost for an hour or so before trying to pull them off. It’s much easier than trying to separate and blanch the raw leaves and you can still use the inner, smaller leaves for soups and stews as you mentioned. I also have a recipe for 5-Spice Mushroom Eggrolls on my blog, made with cabbage and perfect with an Asian Slaw on the side: http://mindfulmealsblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/healthy-chinese-finger-food.html

    • I have made big buckets of sauerkraut (chopped cabbage and salt), let it ferment several weeks, then hot packed it in jars and put it in a water bath to seal. If I remember correctly, I followed my ball blue book. I also bottled cabbage by making a vinegar brine. Both were very delicious and I had a friend tell me the “pickled” cabbage tasted like kimchi. You may loss some nutrition but it will keep on a shelf this way. :) Maybe this will give you another option

  11. I’m intrigued by the statement that dehydrated cabbage can be used for medicinal purposes. Do you have more information on this? My family has a long history of encouraging foods as medicine, or to supplement medicine, but this is the first I am hearing about a potential use for cabbage. I’d love to learn more!

  12. How long will it last in the refrigerator? I made one batch one time two months ago, and it’s still in the fridge. It’s still good, right?

  13. How long will this last in the frig, Andrea? Thanks

  14. Hi, Andrea!

    First, I LURVE your blog! So many great tips and interesting information. Thanks for all your hard work in sharing this marvelous information with us!

    Second, I just finished making my first jar of sauerkraut following your instructions, above.

    OMG!!! SO….MUCH….FUN!! I feel so PROUD of myself! I’m a PIONEER woman!!! Yay!!! Plus, the kraut pounding was good exercise for my arms! lol :) (I’m hinting at my son for a pretty Kraut Pounder for Mother’s Day. Until then I’ve made my own.)

    My jar of kraut is now fermenting in the pantry. Can’t wait to taste it in a few days to see if it’s ready for fridge storage and use.

    Quick question: I assume the shelf life on this in the fridge is infinite since it’s fermented, right? As long as I don’t introduce any condensation into the mix then it should last a very long time. However, it’s probably not an issue as we are kraut lovers here at the Johnson Homestead. We will probably consume it long before there would be any danger of it becoming spoiled….

    Best wishes for a lovely day to you and your beautiful family!

    Very best regards,

    Patti :)

  15. Tracy Bishop says:

    Hi! A few minutes ago I was searching for homemade dish soaps and found your site. Then…I couldn’t believe you included this piece about fermenting cabbage, from the book “Nourishing Traditions”, by Sally Fallon. The owner of a local wine shop, (The Vintage Cellar), recently sold the book to me after a lengthy discussion, on the benefits of eating fermented foods. I have made more recipes from this book than any I’ve ever had! And I just made THIS fermented cabbage two hours ago! I’m not sure I pounded long enough…but will know in a few days. :)
    I love your site and have already friended you on fb. Thanks for the great info!
    tracy

  16. Hi, Andrea! I just served my first batch of this homemade sauerkraut (which I made last week) at lunch today and it was DELICIOUS! It’s THE BEST sauerkraut I’ve ever had in my life and I MADE IT!!! I just started my second jar of this today and have it curing in my pantry now. My hubby also bought me one of those beautiful Kraut Pounders online (for Mother’s Day) and I used it to make my second batch. SO…MUCH..FUN!!! I am feeling very proud of myself right now and know that I will be making this homemade kraut for the rest of my life and it’s all because of your marvelous blog! Thank you so much for all the hard work you do to share your wonderful, healthy information with us. I’m a true devotee for life! Love & Hugs! :)

  17. Quick question…how long will this stay in cold storage (the refrigerator)? I would like to make lots of sauerkraut right now (while cabbage is in season), but don’t want to waste time/money if it won’t last until we would be ready to eat it. Thanks for your time!

    • It lasts indefinitely! Just eating right now the very kraut I made when I posted this :)

      • Fabulous! Between the instructions on your post & the Wild Fermentation book I made my first kraut ferment this week in a crock! I agree – not sure why it is so intimidating to start, but now I feel excited to make more & stock the basement fridge for the winter months! Thanks for your quick reply – love your site!

  18. Hi Andrea,

    I had no idea it was so simple to make saurkraut. We eat brats all the time with pickled red onions. I work in exchange for a share at a local co-op and we are just starting to get cabbage (the drought really held it back). I’m looking forward to trying this out. and putting it on our brats!

    We’re having our inaugural Eat Make Grow Blog Hop. We are looking for folks to link up who want to share what they have been eating with their families, growing in their gardens or making with all their creative impulses. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll hop on over and link up a couple of your posts. It’s a way for you to grow your readership and find other like minded mamas.

    Hope to see you there,

    Foy
    http://foyupdate.blogspot.com/2012/08/inaugural-eat-make-grow-blog-hop.html

  19. Years ago I found a method in a book of old bush skills of Australia, of not so much preserving a cabbage, but more of prolonging its life. I was so intrigued, I tried it myself – and it works. What I did was when about 4 of the cabbages in my garden had reached their maximum size, I cut them off at the ground, leaving as much of the stem attached to the head as I could and also leaving all of the coarse outer leaves on it as well. I then bored a hole as far as I could down the length of the stem and hung all 4 cabbages upside down on my front verandah. I then filled the hole in the stem with water and made sure I topped it up every day.

    What happens is the head of the cabbage starts to live off the nutrients in the outer leaves. These leaves will slowly wilt and dry out, but the inner head of the cabbage stays fresh. It’s a long time ago now, but I think I had those cabbages hanging there for about 3 – 4 months and when we finally started eating them, they were as good as a freshly picked cabbage. The head will shrink a bit, but it’s all certainly very edible. I suppose if you wanted to go all high-tech with this method, you could run a water supply to the cabbages and water them with drip nozzles.

    I found it to be well worth while, even if your neighbors do give you some odd looks because you have cabbages hanging upside-down around your house.

    • Thanks, Saltbush. We have a TON (well, a lot anyway) of cabbage this year, and I am wanting to try different ways of preservation with them. As slaw is a favorite, I will certainly try this method. Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. Brenna says:

    I was just wondering, do you have to keep sauerkraut cold?

    • I have kept sauerkraut in my crock for months without any refrigeration. Just took out what I needed each time and made sure when putting it back that the remaining sauerkraut was totally submerged in the liquid using a brick on a plate as a weight. Sauerkraut is anaerobic – meaning air can’t get to it or it will spoil. That’s where the weighted plate comes in.

  21. Brenna says:

    And how long does it keep?

  22. I am trying this Kraut for the first time. Am I the only one that has a question on how much liquid is needed to be extracted from the cabbage? Maybe I am not beating it enough? Maybe I did not cut it small enough? I am now getting some moisture but not liquid.. can anyone advise ? Can I add water?

  23. another old time way of keeping cabbage when its full grown pull up roots and all , dig pit in ground and line with straw place cabbages in pit with roots up cover with straw and dirt, when you need a head of fresh cabbage just uncover and clean as normal, be sure to cover the rest back up so it doesnt freeze in winter. this also works for potatoes

  24. You’re right. Not sure why I was so intimidated!
    Had DH pound for me. Much easier.

    Quite rewarding! Thank you.

  25. Lee Roland says:

    Do I need to blanche cabbage before dehydrating it?
    Thanks!

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