When I found these ridiculously awesome cabbages at my local farmer’s market last weekend, I was overjoyed. I had seen them in Vermont the week before and I was afraid I wouldn’t get my hands on them back home. They feel exactly like a regular ol’ head of cabbage, but they’re way cuter and therefore I had to kraut them. A quick internet search reveals that there are many names for this variety of cabbage, including the creative sweetheart and the literal pointed.
I thought I’d share some specifics and options on a step that is mentioned in just about every kraut recipe you’ll ever read. Think of it as pre-composting, resourcefulness, waste-avoidance or laziness. However you think of it, it’s an easy, free way to keep the top of your kraut from getting mold-y or even kahm yeasty. The basic premise is to pack your jar of kraut as tightly as humanly possible and then, right under the shoulders of the jar, pack the cabbage leaf, so that if anything gets exposed to the air, it will be that leaf. If it gets gross, you don’t mind because you’ll just compost it! With a flat-sided jar, you can tuck the cabbage around the sides of the fermenting kraut. It also makes a nice shelf for any weights you might want to use, be it a ziplock bag filled with brine, a smaller jar, or actual jar weights.
It’s not fancy, but it does the trick! Trim away any soft or mushy parts. On this particular leaf, I tore off the black parts you see pictured. On large cabbages, there is often a very strong rib in the middle of the leaf. I LOVE that rib and I make sure to keep it, even when trimming away other parts, because it makes for a very sturdy shelf, as mentioned above.
PS-Even in the crock, layering outer cabbage leaves along the top is a great tactic for helping submerge. Some do them under the weight, some just use them as a top layer and skip the weights altogether. I personally prefer to use a weight.