Beaver Valley Homemade Sauerkraut Page
Once Upon A Late October …
Welcome to our little neighborhood page. Every year a few of us get a little crazy and start making sauerkraut. This involved traveling 50 miles (80km) to the north to gather the kraut. A farmer north of Penn-Yan, NY gives us a good price on 100 heads of cabbage. Cabbage is an important ingredient in the making of sauerkraut. Actually, besides a little salt, its the only ingredient. It is November, and we are out in the field picking the cabbage. Then we drive home and unload the cabbage.
Next the cabbage is sliced. This is an all day party. Friends and neighbors gather at Bud and Barb's garage. The garage is heated by a wood stove, as early November in New York is a little cold. We used to slice all the cabbage by hand, but this time we were most fortunate to acquire an electric cabbage slicer. This did cut down on the manpower required for preparing the kraut, but these people were assigned to the beer drinking task.
So the cabbage is sliced, packed in plastic barrels and moved down the street to Bob's garage to sit until spring. During the winter there is not much to do except to practice our beer drinking proficiency.
The Next Spring …
Now it is springtime! There is a lot of kraut here! There are bags filled with water that stay on top and seal the kraut. Any gas that occurs during fermentation can escape. This little room is heated by a 150 watt light bulb controlled by a thermostat. The temperature inside is no less than 50F (10C).
On the left is Eddy-Bob Boooooooorkowski and Lee Clark scooping out the kraut with tongs and placing it in plastic bags. The picture on the right is Dave Schmarder also helping.
Here is our Quality Control Dept. Lee is shown carefully weighing the bags of kraut. Each bag contains 1.5 pounds (.7kg) of kraut. This amount is just right for most family use. There are some bags made with single serving amounts.
The first picture shows Ranger Bob Harrington sealing the weighed bags of kraut. In past years, the bags were tied with a knot and then another bag placed over the first. This method of using a commercial heat sealer has improved the appearance of the product. Shown in the other picture is some of the finished bags of kraut, waiting to be frozen.
We proudly present this years Sauerkraut Princess of Beaver Valley, Kristina
Ranger Bob sure likes his kraut!
Trudy (Ranger Bob's understanding wife) and Kristina watch over the process.
Fall 2002 Update: On October 4, Ranger Bob and Digital Dave (webmaster) went back north of Penn Yan and picked about 100 heads of cabbage. The cabbage was smaller this year, probably due to the dry weather. The heads weighed about 7 or 8 pounds on average.
On November 2, the usual gang got together in Bob's garage (with built in mens-only urinal) to cut the cabbage. Ranger Bob made a new belt for the cabbage cutter, and it worked fantastic! However we now find that the cabbage was all cut before the beer was finished. Oh well. We will have to do a make up beer drinking practice session.
As usual we had some food to munch on. We had cheddar cheese, crackers, cheese log and a crock-pot filled with the "mystery meat". The meat is usually shot or run over by one of our participants. This year we had deer dogs.
Please stay tuned until the end of March when we once again remove the kraut from the barrel and package it. ~ Dave
Not so frequently questions asked
Q: Would it be possible to make sauerkraut without cutting up the head?
A: I suspect that the head would rot before fermenting properly. The cutting produces more surface area to allow the sugars in the cabbage to escape, the salt helps draw it out.
The fermentation is by naturally occuring lactobacillus, which give the acidity, and the wonderful flavor.
You may be successful if you add sugar to the mix or start out with a slightly acidic water (adding vinegar or citric acid to the water – a tablespoon per quart. you should try this on one or two heads, in case it doesn't work. RB
Early 2003 Update
It is with deep sadness that I tell you that on March 1, 2003 we had our last packaging of sauerkraut in Beaver Valley. Ranger Bob and Trudy have relocated to a new home north of Syracuse, NY. All of us that have taken part in this over the last 10+ years will miss this ritual very much. But everything can't go on forever.
It was fun!
When you can't have the sauerkraut fest in Beaver Valley, then move it to Syracuse! And that is what we did. Here you can see Ranger Bob, with jr. Rangers Lee and Dave slaving at the secret sauerkraut factory. The difference is the venue and the apparent soberness of the participants. Well, it was 10AM and some of us have our principles.