Sauerkraut was a staple for winter months

From our February 2013 issue

By Annie Zamonsky – North Battleford, Sask.

Making sauerkraut was a big job. In the springtime, you needed to make a hot bed. If you didn’t have one from the previous year you made a box about four x six, filled it with soil, then put down one layer of horse manure.

The soil couldn’t have too much manure for it would overheat, burning the seed and plants and then you’d have to start all over again. There were no greenhouses back then.

Mother picked the kind of cabbage she wanted and planted the seed in the hot bed. She then watered it, and covered it with old broads old coats and watched the soil so it wouldn’t overheat. When warm, she uncovered it to the sun then covered it at night.

I helped mother plant and water if there was no rain. After that, we had to watch for bugs. Dad bought some stuff to mix with flower which did the bugs in.

When fall came, it was time to cut the cabbage and outer leaves. Mother brought the cabbage into the house and poured hot water into the 45-gallon wooden barrel.

After that, more outer leaves were taken off. Mother placed a shredder on the barrel and started shredding the cabbage, about 4- to 6-inches deep, then she put whole cabbage on top to make sauerkraut for cabbage rolls. She also sprinkled coarse salt on every layer. This took about two weeks. Mother was the only one who did the shredding.

The cabbage needed to be pressed down to make it firm so she put heavy clean boards on top and a clean rock on top for weight. She cleaned the boards and rock once a week.

When the sauerkraut was finished fermenting it was time to roll the barrel out to the veranda. There the sauerkraut stayed.

When mother needed sauerkraut dad or my brothers would bring the barrel into the house. It stayed a few days then mother took what she needed and out went the barrel.

This went on all winter. The sauerkraut was eaten as a vegetable, used to make perogies, cabbage rolls, soup, and was also eaten with garlic sausage. The smell of fermenting sauerkraut was very pleasing, a one-of-a-kind smell.