Well, now's the time to finish my kraut. I just need to remind you all that these kraut listings (Making Sauerkraut and Canning Sauerkraut) are how I make kraut. They are not intended to be definitive "how-to's" and I am not responsible for what you assume or do because of them. If you click on the title to this post, you should be taken to the earlier post on making sauerkraut. BTW, I also am posting these pics to the Mother Earth News web site WeCU photo section; just search for either "sauerkraut" or Swamp Creek Farm.
So! My kraut has fermented and fortunately I had minimal problem with vinegar flies. I wheeled my crock into the kitchen and put it near the garbage can.
Then I prepare my jars and lids. The jars and lids are washed with hot, soapy water, then the jars are filled with hot water to keep them warm, and the lids and bands are placed in hot water, too. I try to use my oldest screw bands because the acid in the kraut wrecks the shiny finish and I use my nice bands on gifts I give to friends and family. My pressure canner is clean and in good working order. About two inches of water is put in it, and the canner is set on the stove with the heat on "low" to warm it up.
I go back to my crock and carefully remove the cheesecloth covering.
Yuck! The mold is gross but I don't fret. I take off my rock weight, rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. Then I take a stainless steel spoon and carefully scoop off the mold. The mold goes into the garbage. Then, using the spoon I pry off the plate and expose the kraut. The plate goes into the dishwasher.
Next, taking my stainless steel spoon I peel off about the top 2" of kraut and toss it in the garbage -- not the compost bin! This spoon then goes into the dishwasher with the kraut rock and plate, and I get another stainless steel spoon, this time a slotted one -- using a slotted spoon at this point is less messy. Why use stainless steel? Because it's easy to sterilize.
Working quickly, I fill my jars, top them with hot water, remove the air bubbles, put the lids and screw bands on, and put them into the canner.
I lock on the canner lid and turn up the heat. When I see steam venting clearly in a steady stream from the canner vent hole, I set a timer for 5 minutes and allow the steam to vent unhindered. When the timer goes off I put on an oven glove and carefully set the weighted steam gauge at 15psi over the vent hole.
Then I start watching the pressure dial gauge. I never leave the kitchen at this point. When the dial gauge reaches 15psi, the weighted gauge starts jiggling and I start a timer set for a 20 minute count down. I carefully watch the dial gauge and adjust the heat under the canner as necessary to keep the dial gauge as close to 15psi as possible. The weighted gauge will have a steady jiggle. When the timer goes off, I shut off the heat under the canner and let the pressure come down to 0psi naturally. Once the pressure is down, I take off the weighted gauge and carefully remove the canner lid being sure to open it away from me. Anyone who doesn't have a healthy respect for steam deserves what they get! I remove the hot jars from the canner and let them cool undisturbed.
Two canners makes the work go quicker.
When the canning is done I clean my work area, set the dishwasher to sterilize and hand wash my canners and crock with hot soapy water and a little bleach. Then everything gets put away for next year. The next day I remove the screw bands from the sauerkraut jars and put them in the dishwasher to get washed. I wipe down the jars, check to make sure all jar lids have sealed, and write the contents and date on the jar lid. Then the jars get taken to the basement and put on the pantry shelf. This year I made one 5-gallon crock and canned 15 1/2 quarts of finished sauerkraut. Eating one quart a week starting in November will give us kraut till about the end of February. Of course, I will send my soldier girl the pint jar for Christmas!