Appalachia Appalachian Food

How Pap and Granny Make Kraut


How to make kraut in the jar
Granny and Pap make kraut in the jar.

How to make kraut without a crock
While Pap chops the cabbage Granny sterilizes the jar. I have no clue why she only does one at a time, but that’s how she does it.

Making kraut
Granny puts one teaspoon of sugar in a sterilized jar;

Putting kraut in the jar
she packs the jar full of chopped cabbage, but not too tightly. Granny says it needs a little room to work.

How granny makes kraut
On top of the cabbage Granny adds 2 teaspoons of salt.

old timey kraut
Then she fills the jar with cold water; adds the lid and ring and seals tightly.

Letting kraut work
Granny sits the jars out on the porch while the kraut is making. Sometimes the juice will seep out around the lids and the mess is easier to clean up if it’s outside.

Easy recipe for making kraut
I asked Granny how long it took the kraut to make she said “Oh at least 2 or 3 weeks, but I like to leave mine on the porch till cold weather then I’ll carry it to the basement.”

I said “Does a jar ever explode?” Granny said “Why Lord no it may run out some but it won’t explode.” Granny is a worrier, so after a few minutes she said “Well if it ever did explode it wouldn’t hurt nothing outside no way.”


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2011.


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  • Reply
    Donna Wittmeier
    July 10, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Will this be a sweeter kraut or more tangy?

    • Reply
      July 10, 2020 at 11:39 am

      Donna-its not sweet, just your typical tangy kraut 🙂

  • Reply
    May 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Pam-thank you for the comment! Granny has never added caraway seeds but I think the addition would be good. You dont have to leave it out as long as Granny. I usually open a jar after a few weeks to see if I think its finished working. If not, I leave it for a little longer or if I think its good I go ahead and carry it to the basement. I think Granny waits to make sure no more liquid is going to seep out in her basement : )

  • Reply
    May 10, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Thank you so much for this!! I remember my grandfather telling us about how they used to make it in big barrels, going onto detail about the smells and “skimming” off the scum! I wish I had written all that down, as he is gone, now! I am so happy to see and “old-fashioned”, tried-and-true method, as many of the ones I find online involve expensive equipment!

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    May 9, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    I remember our maternal Grandmother making sauerkraut. Our paternal Grandmother bought it in a can, and she was always quick to tell me when sending me to the little store in the next block as a child, “Only the Silver Floss. Don’t get any other kind.” She would also remind us about Joan of Arc kidney beans the same way.
    Both brands are still available, but I usually get store brand when I’m buying either. Wonder what Grandma (we called her Mucka for reasons no one can clearly recall) would say about that. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I made kraut one time in my life, last fall. I used the crock method. I found a big glass jar big enough to hold one head of cabbage with a mouth big enough to get my hand in. I chopped the cabbage pretty small and added 3 tablespoons of salt. I worked (squeezed and mashed) it with my hands for about ten minutes then packed it in my little self styled crock. I weighted it down with a smaller jar filled with water. There was enough liquid to cover the cabbage so I didn’t have to add any water. I covered it all with cheesecloth and put a rubber band around the neck of the jar. Checked it every day or two to make sure it wasn’t drying out. I had to add just a little bit of salty water one time.
    After two weeks I tasted it and it tasted like kraut. It was a little too strong for my taste but I thought it would be good cooked with some wieners or Polish sausage or something. I put it in quart jars (1½) and set it in the fridge. The first time I tried to eat it, it was still way too strong but I didn’t throw it out. I’m glad I didn’t. A couple of months later it dawned on me. “Rinse it off stupid!” I put it in a sieve and ran water over it. That worked! Perfection!
    My mother made kraut just like your folks. She had a can house built into the side of the mountain. It kept everything cool and dark.
    PS: I washed my equipment and my hands thoroughly before starting but didn’t sterilize anything. I thought the little critters that turn cabbage into kraut might get killed in the process.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 11:16 am

    We have been making Granny and Pap’s kraut since the day you first posted this. Works for us every time!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 9, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I made several pints of kraut in a jar one time using salt only and 2 1/2 years later, it’s still nice and white. And it’s sour enough to make a pig squeal. Just like granny, I fixed one jar at a time…Ken

  • Reply
    Betty Louise Saxon Hopkins
    May 9, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Reading your story about Pap and Granny’s kraut brought back memories of my own sweet Mom. She, too, made jars and jars of kraut. Many years ago, I called her on one of her kraut-making days and asked her what she was doing. She said “I’m chopping cabbage to make kraut, and I think it’s growing!” lol!

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    May 9, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Oh boy, am I going to try this!!! I have never made kraut before. Has Granny ever added caraway seed? I love Bavarian sauerkraut, more mild that the other krauts you buy at the store. I know you said Granny leaves it out for 2 or 3 weeks but then she said until it gets cold so would I leave it out for months? Sorry for all the dumb questions but, I really want to try this and want to do it just right. Thank you and Granny so much!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 9, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Mama made her kraut this way, too, but I think she only put one teaspoon of salt and one of sugar. She used warm water. We used to chop it in a wash tub with a straightened out sharpened hoe. It sat out on the porch until it quit “working out” and was so good. It did ruin the jar rings, though & I remember some of them rusting enough that they were pretty hard to get off. I have been fermenting mine in a big glass pickle jar but I think I will try some this way–I can use up my jar rings that are trying to rust anyway.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 9:02 am

    I love kraut and so does much of my family. I keep a little crock of kraut going most of the time. Before it is placed in sealed jars the smell can be rather strong. I will have to try Granny and Pap’s recipe in jars, as it seems this would be less messy and the plus would be placing it outside. Also, it would save all that mashing and weighing down. I have never tried the sugar, but it sure would balance that briney taste. All that chopping can get tough, and Papa sure was a wonderful help mate. A big advantage of homemade kraut is it is loaded with probiotics as long as not heated. Any water added must be non chlorinated.
    When I can find wieners with minimal additives, I cook an ole timey favorite around here Sauerkraut and Wieners. Hmmm, also love spell check, as I apparently misspelled wieners all my life until today. There isn’t much better around here than good homemade kraut with a pot of soup beans. My Mom fried much of her bread, and nothing much more tasty with kilt/wilted lettuce. Although I cook it minimally now, it is still my go to when I just cannot figure out what I have a taste for.
    Tipper, you have learned so much from your wonderful parents, and now we are fortunate enough to be learning many of the skills your parents shared. Great post today! Prayers that you can move through your week without a heavy heart. Sharing thoughts and memories of loved ones can be very healing.

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    May 9, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I’ve never made cabbage kraut but from my mother in law talking she only added salt. However when we make turnip kraut we do add salt and sugar.
    If I remember I’ll bring you a jar in July when we come.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 9, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Never heard of it done that way but sounds extremely practical. I like the idea og knowing just how many jars you have done as you go along because just how many quarts of kraut does one family need ?
    They made a good team I see. My brother and I used to sit on the porch with Grandma peeling apples, stringing and breaking beans or whatever. I don’t recall her ever asking us to help. We just did. Those are good memories.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I always thought making kraft would be moew complicated. It isn’t a food I have ever liked too much, but is very healthy for your gut.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I always thought making kraft would be moew complicated. It isn’t a food I have ever liked too much, but is very healthy for your gut.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I always thought making kraft would be moew complicated. It isn’t a food I have ever liked too much, but is very healthy for your gut.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I always thought making kraft would be moew complicated. It isn’t a food I have ever liked too much, but is very healthy for your gut.

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