Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sauerkraut Making - A Lesson Plan

One of the things I found most exciting about the location of our home when we moved here over three years ago is its proximity to the 4-H County Fair Grounds.  Ever since we started homeschooling over 15 years ago in the city I have wanted to get involved with 4-H.  For whatever reason, it never worked out with the last group of children.  However, things are looking up this time around.  

Attending the fair has already become a family tradition.  Now, we're taking the next step.  I totally feel like a fish out of water, but we're putting one foot in front of the other and working our way toward participating with entries into this years fair.  Harmony plans to do photography, and Avery is considering entering a collection or a piece of artwork.  We'll see where it all leads.

For now, we are enjoying getting together with another family as a farm group similar to the 4-H groups that meet throughout the year in preparation for the summer fair.  We are enjoying ourselves now that both of our families are finally well, and we held our first hands on meeting this week.  The kids learned about sauerkraut, and we're trying our hands and making our own batch.  

I really enjoy cooking with kids.  It's such a fun way to learn.  This lesson could easily be used to compliment a study in history, geography, food preservation, or even science.  Below is the precise lesson plan I followed at our last meeting.  

Lesson – How to Make Sauerkraut

Needed Supplies for Sauerkraut -


1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)


Cutting board
Chef's knife
Mixing bowl
2-quart widemouth canning jar (or two, one-quart mason jars)
Canning funnel (optional)
Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
Cloth for covering the jar
Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth

*See attached document for instructions.

Process of Lesson -

  1. Bake treat ahead of time, if desired, or bake together as a group. *I made this ahead of time, served it to them at the end of the meeting, and then told them that one of the ingredients included sauerkraut. Two recipes are included to choose from.
  2. Advance prep supplies and ingredients as desired.
  3. Share the background of sauerkraut with the kids, and answer any questions they may have.
  4. Make sauerkraut together.
  5. Handout recipe for Bratwurst and Sauerkraut for use at the end of fermentation of their sauerkraut.
  6. Serve the snack.
  7. After they've stated how good it is let them know sauerkraut is one of the ingredients. :)

Background – Sauerkraut has been made and used for centuries in various cultures. The word sauerkraut means “sour cabbage” in German. It is made through a process called fermentation where you combine shredded cabbage and salt and allow it to sit, or ferment, for several days. In history this method was used to preserve food for long periods of time such as the long winters experienced in Germany. Sauerkraut is very high in vitamin C and was often taken on long sea voyages as a treatment for scurvy, a disease common among sailors from lack of vitamin C.

The Chinese are credited with the creation of sauerkraut over 2000 years ago. They used to ferment the cabbage in wine, but over the years it was discovered that using salt produced a better tasting product.

There are many traditions around the world that involve eating sauerkraut. The Dutch eat a special Chicken dish stuffed with sauerkraut at Christmas as well as a special dish made with pork and sauerkraut at the New Year. Many cultures also believe it is good luck to eat sauerkraut at times of celebration like Christmas, New Year, graduations and other family celebrations.

Worldwide more than one billion servings of sauerkraut are eaten each year. Two out of three Americans eat sauerkraut on a regular basis. Sauerkraut can be eaten hot or cold and can be included in recipes from soups and sandwiches to burgers and casseroles, and even smoothies and desserts!

Snack Choices and Ingredient Lists -

Sauerkraut Brownies

¾ cup salted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. Almond extract
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. Flour
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa powder
1 – 16 ounce package sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 cup water (approximate)
½ cup whole pecans
½ cup butterscotch chips

    - OR -

Crunchy Date Bars *This is the recipe I made.  I used GF All Purpose Flour.

2 cups (1lb. Package) pitted dates
1 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 ½ cups water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 ½ cups sifted flour
¾ tsp. Salt
1 ½ tsp. Baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup butter


Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Armini, pg.44


Leah Courtney said...

I've never even thought about how to make sauerkraut or using it in any recipe. These are good ideas. :-)

annette @ a net in time said...

well let me see...from someone who cannot STAND sauerkraut (and yes I have tried it more than once) the idea of sauerkraut in brownies somehow intrigues me. I'd want to try one VERY small piece. :)

Tina Smith said...

Annette - Trust me. They are amazing! The kids had no clue that there was sauerkraut in the brownies. It was a lot of fun!

Leah - Neither had I! It was super simple, and a lot of fun.


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