La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like we did and like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Making Sauerkraut

My mum used to make it around this time of year. But she gave me her Sauerkraut crock and to my shame I have to admit  I only produced my own once (a long time ago).
I have used the crock to make elderflower champagne a few times, mind you.

When I made the Sauerkraut before we were living in France and had a fantastic harvest of organic white cabbage. I never fancied making it from shop bought cabbage. It just didn't seem right to me.

On Saturday I harvested some cabbages from the veggie garden and decided to have another go at it.

They are absolutely nothing like the specimens from France and we had to share the ones here with slugs, millipedes and earthworms. A lot of cleaning was involved. Firstly I removed outer leaves (of which I kept the largest and nicest ones for later use) and placed the whole cabbages in the sink with cold water to which I added some salt.

I quartered them and placed them yet again  in slightly salted cold water.
Whatever is lurking underneath will soon be trying to escape from the kitchen sink or find its way to the bottom.
After removing the core, the cabbage then is finely sliced in long strips. I used a knife instead of food processor, just to makes sure there wouldn't be too much protein being smashed up and make it all the way through the fermenting process.

After another good wash, the cabbage, together with apples and onions is placed in a dry, clean recipient (in my case the sink once again with the plug in da hole) 

Salt, juniper berries and caraway seeds are mixed and massaged into the veg and left for 30 minutes or thereabouts.

Hello ! Hello ! Hello !
Sparkling clean crock.

 The cabbage then has to be placed into the crock bit by bit and pressed down really well.
The liquid that has been released in your recipient (in my case the sink) has to be scooped out and poured over the cabbage. 
The cabbage should be completely covered with liquid. If you don't have enough, top it up with mineral water.

Here is where the kept aside outer leaves come into play. They go on top. 
But that's not all.

 The pot comes with two weighting stones.

Above you'll notice the channel at the top of the crock. That needs to be filled with water before the lid goes on.

It makes the pot air tight. 

Off to the pantry with you. Blummin' heavy it is too.
Start the fermentation process. Soon we'll be hearing blubblub blub coming from the pantry.


  • 6 kg cabbage - you can use a mixture of white and savoy or green cabbage, ratio 4 kg white and 2 kg other
  • 300 gr onion
  • 700 gr apples (acidic)
  • 70 gr sea salt
  • 25 juniper berries
  • 10 gr caraway seeds
  • Remove outer leaves of the cabbage but keep the largest/nicest ones aside.
  • Halve or quarter the cabbages and remove the core. If the core is woody discard. If it is fresh and crisp it can be grated to go in with the rest of cabbage.
  • Slice the cabbage in thin long strips and wash in cold water.
  • Peel the apples and onions. Slice the onions thinly. Apples can be either grated or sliced.
  • Drain the clean cabbage.
  • In a large enough recipient (or clean sink with plug) mix the apples onions and cabbage together.
  • Add the salt, caraway and juniper berries. Massage well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  • Layer the cabbage in the crock pot and press down each layer really well. 
  • Fill the pot up to max 10 cm underneath the edge.
  • Add all the drawn out liquid that has been released in your recipient. Fill up with mineral water to about 5 cm above the layer of cabbage.
  • Cover with large outer leaves and put weighting stones on top.
  • Fill the rim with water and close off with lid.
  • The crock should be placed in a room where the temperature is about 20° to 22° C for a week. That should start the fermentation process.
  • For the next three to 5 weeks the pot needs to be standing in a cool place (4° to 8°)
  • After a total of 4 to 6 weeks the Sauerkraut is ready for use. It can be kept for a few months, provided the cabbage stays covered with the liquid and is stored in a cold place.
  • Never throw away the liquid ! It is full of goodness and can be used as a refreshing drink or as a starter for the next batch of Sauerkraut.

I am really looking forward to this meal.
It is a photo from our time in France and I was cooking for a crowd. Served with mashed potato on the side it is a winner.

Patricia xxx...x

PS While writing this post (Sunday) I can already hear the blub blub blubbing coming from the pantry. The fermentation process has started.


  1. Ha ha my parents have those exact pots for fermenting! with the weights and the lid with the water channel!

    1. Ah, but do they still use them ? ;)

    2. oh yes. I eat kraut every day, ha, that and half a small jar of gerkins, I cant get enough of them. Other people got given vitamins as kids when I was at school. Our family were pumped full of cabbage! We ate kraut and had to drink cabbage water. My Babba (Grandmother), insisted on it.

    3. That made me smile. I forgot that you have links to the Netherlands. :)

  2. Thank you for the tutorial. I have often looked at the recipe as OH likes all kinds of pickles and ferments. I love your fermenting pot will have to keep an eye out for one me thinks it will make life a lot easier.



    1. Those crock pots work very well. Made for purpose.
      They are available on Amazon in all different sizes. Mine is a 20 ltr pot. :)

  3. Blub blub blub for 5-6 weeks. What on earth does it taste like? It's something I've never tried. Very interesting recipe.

    1. It tastes sour and it contains of vitamins B, C and K.
      "It is also low in calories and high in calcium and magnesium, and it is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese" (Wikipedia)
      James Cook allegedly took Sauerkraut with him on his travels (yes, even to New Zealand)as it prevented scurvy. :)

    2. I should try it one day. Who knows, I might even like it!!!

  4. I have never made sauerkraut before, but this year I want to have a go because our neighbor gave us lots of cabbages. Your post on how to do this a great blessing to me. You explained it very throughly:)making me feel very confident that I could do it too. I don't have the proper crock but I will have to use bottles I think. BTW... I am coveting your antique crock...not a good thing to do at the start of the day, on the first day of a working week! Your crock with proper weighting stones is so well kept after many years! It is so beautiful:) Thank you for your post today Patricia:)

    1. This is the right time for starting the fermentation process. After a good cabbage harvest.
      It really isn't difficult or complicated but I'm glad my recipe will be of help to you.
      Sauerkraut is also a staple in Bulgaria, isn't it ? Maybe you could keep your eyes peeled for a secondhand or even new crock. I'm sure there must be loads of them lurking in sheds and pantries of the older generation.
      Let me know how you get on. :)

    2. I'm preparing my cabbage for sauerkraut and this is my third visit for the day at your blog to consult and reconsult on the know-how!! I should have it in my brain by now;P Hmmm...yes, you're right! Bulgarians preserve a lot of food for the winter season and sauerkraut is one of them...they like it with their pork when they do their end of the year slaughtering!

  5. That sauerkraut pot is perfect for the task, I think - and a real family heirloom. I don't expect I could find one here in the UK though. Sauerkraut is not very popular here. (Too healthy, I expect!)

    1. But you can find it in the UK, Mark. search for sauerkraut crock. It won't be exactly the same but they have a variety of pots.
      I guess Sauerkraut is popular with a certain British demographic, though. The alternatives and/or hippies. ;)

  6. Oh that's fab I love how you still have the pot. I've never tried it but my husband adores saurkraut and eats it nearly everyday. I think I would definitely try the homemade version x

    1. Sauerkraut is particularly lovely raw as or in a salad. :)

  7. I love your crock pot, it's so much easier to do a task with the right equipment isn't it. Glad it started 'blubbing' for you. I'm always relieved when I hear the noises or see the sights I'm supposed to after doing a job :-)

  8. Anonymous9:06 am

    I am only just venturing into the world of fermented foods, and your sauerkraut looks inspiring, Patricia. Does it have to be made in such a large quantity? I'd like to do a little batch first just to check we like it! Not sure if I fall into the alternatives/hippies or another group, but thank you for the info about Amazon too!

    1. Ha ha ! I'm not sure in what demographic group I can class myself. Probably a wannabee hippy or bobo.
      You can of course make it in smaller quantities. Just make sure the ratio salt to cabbage is adhered to and all will be fine. It is 10 grams of salt for 1 kg of vegetable.


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