We’re making a new batch of sauerkraut right now, and it’s our biggest batch ever: 5.5 quarts. My normal method, while the kraut is fermenting, is to keep the jar tightly sealed, and open it about twice a day and let out the built-up gas and push down on the cabbage a bit. If you don’t do this, the lids can literally blow right off, from the pent-up gas. It’s happened to me.
No problem when you’re making one quart, but with five it starts to be a burden to open each one twice a day. So I’m fermenting these the old-fashioned way:
I have a plastic jug filled with water holding the cabbage under the surface of the liquid in each jar. Air bubbles can easily escape, and I pretty much do absolutely nothing except wait for it to get sour enough. I have the jars sitting in a cake pan in case they froth over a little bit. (Can you see the froth on the right-hand one?)
We’ll see how this goes… it’s been going for 2 days only so the smell is not a factor yet. It might get bad though. I have it in a very cool spot in the dining room so this is going to be a long, slow ferment. I’m also keeping a flour sack towel over all of them to keep out dust, dog hair, etc.
We’ll see if I get mold, a common complaint when people ferment with this method. It’s nothing more than a nuisance; you just scrape it off and throw it away when you’re transferring your kraut to cold storage.
Update, 10/29/2009: It turned out great!