Salting Cabbage in North Carolina & Scotland

Image Salting Cabbage

1917 – Public Domain Photo Courtesy of U of NC

Photo Caption: CONSERVING CABBAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA” – More than 1,000 pounds of cabbage were put up by these women in three ways—kraut in light salt; kraut in heavy salt, and cabbage in brine, or pickled cabbage Used with permission – Food Conservation in North Carolina.

I ran across a couple of interesting public-domain articles mentioning dry-preserving vegetables in salt. The first is from the University of North Carolina, food-photo history collection showing men and women in 1917, packing barrels of cabbage – “kraut in light salt” and “cabbage in brine”. I’d always assumed only cabbage in brine was called kraut!

Another public domain piece, “Home and Farm Food Preservation” book, posted on Electric Scotland has some interesting recipes using a great deal more salt than our modern recipes. Any of their recipes, by the way, could be made in the Pickl-It system.

Given the amount of salt used in their recipes, it appears that today’s people have a low salt-tolerance, but crave sugar, where it seems the opposite was true several generations ago.

Speaking of salt, this article suggests buying and using dairy salt from the feed store, using it to preserve vegetables. There’s no doubt bulk salt would be more economical, but modern bulk feed-salt may have additives that weren’t included in salt sold decades ago. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so skip their advice, and instead use only unrefined sea salt meant for human consumption.

One last note – the article mentions that salted (lacto-fermented) vegetables retain more “fresh vegetable flavor and odor than will canned vegetables.” They will also retain far more nutrients than canned vegetables which lose a large percentage during the high-heat canning process. For further study, salt information.


Tiny Dill 500 Bar

Home and Farm Food Preservation
Food Preservation Recipes
Chapter XXXII – Recipes for Preservation of Vegetables by Salt or Fermentation

Vegetables may be preserved by heavy salting with dry salt, by storage in strong brine and by fermentation in a weak brine or in the presence of a small amount of salt. Recipes for the use of all three methods are given.

If the salting is carefully done, the salted vegetables will be very attractive in flavor and appearance. They will possess more of the fresh vegetable flavor and odor than will canned vegetables.

The principles of preservation of vegetables by salt will be found in Chap. XVI, pars. 96 and 97. A knowledge of these principles will be of great assistance in carrying out the directions given in the recipes.

Preservation of Vegetables by Dry Salt

1. Slice or shred the vegetables and weigh. String beans are prepared and broken as for cooking.

2. Weigh 1 lb. of salt to each 4 lbs. of vegetables. Place a layer of the salt in the bottom of a crock or barrel or wooden tub. Do not use metal containers. Build the sliced or broken vegetables and salt up in alternate layers until the container is full. Cover last layer of vegetables with a layer of salt.

3. Place a false wooden head small enough to fit inside the container on top of the mixture. Place a heavy weight on this head. Leave until the liquid is forced out of the vegetables and they are immersed in the brine formed by their own juice and the salt. This will be in about 2 weeks.

4. Remove the false head and weight and seal with paraffin to prevent evaporation of the liquid.

5. The vegetables will keep indefinitely and retain much of the original appearance and flavor of the fresh vegetables. To use them, soak in a large volume of water overnight; for example, by suspending them in a cheesecloth bag near the surface of a large pot of water. Or parboil to remove salt. Then cook and prepare for the table in the usual ways.

Preservation of Vegetables in Strong Brine

1. Prepare a brine of 3 1/2 lbs. of salt per gallon of water. Immerse the whole vegetables in this and keep them submerged by means of a wooden float. Do not use metal containers. This method is especially good for peppers, artichokes, cauliflower and other vegetables not readily preserved by the dry salting process.

2. If the vegetables show mold or fermentation at any time add more salt. They will keep better if the container is sealed with paraffin.

3. Freshen for use as in preceding recipe.

Preservation of Cabbage by Fermentation (Sauerkraut)

1. Shred the cabbage into narrow strips and weigh.

2. For each 10 lbs. of cabbage weight 6 oz. to 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) of cooking or fine dairy salt.

3. Mix the salt and cabbage very thoroughly in a stoneware crock or wooden container. Place a false head on the cabbage. A wooden head to fit inside the container may be made or a plate may be used for small amounts of material in a crock. Place a heavy weight on the false head (do not use limestone because it is acted upon by the sauerkraut).

4. Leave in a warm place. The juice of the cabbage soon forms a brine. Fermentation will soon start and foam will appear. After about three weeks the kraut should have the desired flavor. When a scum appears, skim it off. If this scum is left undisturbed, it may completely spoil the product.

5. When fermentation ceases and the kraut has developed the proper flavor, it may be kept by sealing it over with paraffin. A better way is to heat it to boiling and pack boiling hot in jars. Sterilize 1/2 hour in a wash-boiler sterilizer at 212° F. and seal. It will then keep indefinitely.

Preservation of String Beans, Beets, and Greens by Fermentation

1. String and break the beans into lengths as for cooking. They should be small and tender. Peel the beets and slice. Trim greens as for cooking for the table.

2. Weigh the vegetables and for each 10 lbs. of vegetables weigh out 1/2 lb. of cooking or dairy salt. Mix vegetables and salt intimately in a crock or barrel. Place false wooden cover and heavy weight on the material. Leave in warm place. The juice of the vegetables will form a brine in which fermentation will take place. The fermentation should be done in 3 weeks.

3. Seal with a thick layer of melted paraffin.

4. Whenever the container is opened to remove material for cooking, it should be resealed again with paraffin.

Preservation of Vegetables by Fermentation in Brine

1. Cucumbers, string beans, green tomatoes, beets, beet tops, and turnip tops, peas, corn and peppers may, be preserved in this way.

2. Wash the vegetables and drain off the surplus moisture. Pack in a keg or crock or other utensil until nearly full (within about 3 in. of the top). Prepare a weak brine as follows: To each gallon of water used, add 1/2 pint of vinegar and 3/4 cup of salt and stir until salt is entirely dissolved. The amount of brine necessary to cover the vegetables will be equal to about one-half the volume of the vegetables.

3. Pour the brine over the vegetables to cover them and keep them submerged by means of a wooden cover. Leave in a warm place until fermentation is over.

4. Remove to a cool place and seal with melted paraffin. If mold has formed, skim it off before sealing. Dill and spices may be added to the brine if desired, when it is poured oil vegetables. Vegetables prepared in this way have a sour taste.

Dill Pickles

1. Wash the cucumbers. Prepare a crock or keg, barrel or wooden bucket. Do not use metal.

2. Place a layer of dill plant in the bottom of the container and a small quantity of mixed “dill pickle spices.” These may be obtained from a grocery. Place two or three layers of cucumbers on these spices and dill plant. Add another layer of dill plant and spices and two or three layers of cucumbers, repeating the alternation of layers until the container is almost full.

3. Cover with a layer of beet leaves or grape leaves at least 1 in. thick. Fill and cover with a brine made of 1 lb. of salt, 10 qts. of water and 2/3 qt. of vinegar.

4. Allow to stand until fermentation ceases (3 to 4 weeks). Seal with paraffin.

5. If large barrels are used the barrels may be headed up after filling with the cucumbers and spice and then filled with a brine, made as above. Leave the bunghole open. When fermentation is over the barrel may be completely filled with the brine and the bunghole closed.

6. Dill pickles may be kept indefinitely by heating to boiling in the brine in which they are made and sealing boiling hot in glass top jars.

Source – Electric Scotland