I was dying to try making my own sauerkraut after seeing Martha’s article on it in October Living. It sounded so easy! My mom remembers her German grandmother making homemade sauerkraut, which she kept in a crock on the kitchen counter. My mom says she just remembers it smelling awful. I wasn’t afraid (and mine actually did not smell at all).
To start you thinly slice up a head of cabbage and mix it with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds. You let it sit for about 5 minutes then you are supposed to squeeze the cabbage to release the juices. This was not easy! I kept squeezing and squeezing, and didn’t get much. Next you’re supposed to put it in a jar and cover it with a cabbage leaf and put a lid on it, opening it each day to let the air out. I decided to follow the method in a book I have, DIY Delicious, and instead covered the jar with a cloth attached with a rubber band. You were supposed to make sure the cabbage was covered in the liquid. It was, but barely. You leave it out on the counter for several days until it reaches the sourness you like. I left mine out for 5 days and it did not get very sour, but that was ok with me. (Next time I will let it sit a little longer, just to experiment with the level of sourness).
The problem I did have was that the liquids evaporated a bit and it grew kind of a white crust on top (which I scooped out) after a few days. I checked with some friends who said that was ok – and also that I probably should have added some water if the liquid went down (I’ll do that next time).
I put my jar in the fridge for a few days, then decided it was time to use it in a dish, so I came up with this hearty supper:
4 bone-in pork chops
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 slices bread
3 corn muffins
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups sauerkraut
4 apples, cored
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Spray an 8×12 pan with cooking spray. Cut a deep, wide pocket in each chop. Rip up the bread and muffins and mix with shallot, garlic, sage, thyme, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add water until the stuffing is moist enough that it holds together. Stuff the chops and place them in the pan. Season them with salt and pepper.
Distribute the sauerkraut around and on the chops. Cut each apple into 4 slices and place on top of the chops. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chops are completely cooked. Be sure to spoon some of the liquid from the pan onto your chop and stuffing when you serve it.
This was fantastic. First of all, the kraut. It wasn’t very sour at all, but it had a little bite. It tasted so much fresher and sweeter than kraut I’ve purchased in the past. I will definitely be making this again, particularly since you can keep it in the fridge for months. And this time I’ll add a little water.
The chops baked up very moist, which pork chops often do not do when they are baked. The kraut and apples added moisture and lots of flavor. The stuffing had interest because of the corn muffins. The apples were tender and pretty and tasted delicious with the chops and kraut.
This was the perfect fall meal! I want to make it again soon because I just could not get enough of it!