Sauerkraut


My Dad was crazy about this; it’s what I recall him craving the most.  He always happily obliged my mother as chief taster when she was in the kitchen trying to get the flavors just right. 

I know my Dad was smiling down from heaven the other day as he watched us make his prized Sauerkraut.

However, sauerkraut is not what we called this dish, being Polish, we referred to it as kapusta (kah-POOS-tah), a word meaning cabbage.  It just sounds wrong.

Anyway, I grew up on this stuff.  Just the aromatics alone take me back to my childhood kitchen.  I can still see the pot my mother cooked it in and my Dad standing there, waiting to inform her if it was sour enough or needed more salt.  It’s a good memory but one that leaves me a bit emotional.

My Mom and I made this the day we made pierogi, let’s just say it was quite the kitchen marathon.  This is one of those dishes that gets better every day it sits in the refrigerator.  It also freezes very well.

The flavor is incredible and tastes nothing like the sauerkraut we put on our hot dogs.  It’s nothing short of amazing. 

You should try it.

To make kapusta, you start by making a stock.  You will need 3-1/2 pounds of pork neck bones; they will have some meat on them.  These are easily found at the grocery store or from your butcher.  Just ask, if they don’t have them right then, it will not be a problem getting them by the next day. 

Place them in a roasting pan, on a rack (sprayed with PAM) and place them in a 350 degree oven for one hour, turning them over after thirty minutes.

Here is what they look like when done cooking.

In a large, heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), place the roasted neck bones, one large, yellow onion, quartered, and a 3/4 pound ham hock.  Fill with enough water to cover the ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for three hours.  When done, strain the stock, reserving separately the neck bones and the ham hock. Pour the liquid back into the pot and spoon off any fat accumulated on top.  Reserve this fat, you might need a little later.

Remove meat from the pork, neck bones.  It will pull off and shred so easily.  Set aside.

My Mom uses a mixture of fresh and jarred sauerkraut in this recipe.  It really gives it a good flavor. 

Chop I head of green cabbage and open two 24 ounce jars of store-bought sauerkraut.  Drain the jarred sauerkraut, reserving the juice.

Bring the stock back to a boil, adding the cabbage, the jarred sauerkraut and the meat from the pork neck bones.  Let simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

 

The inside skin of the ham hock you reserved from the stock has a layer of fat.  With a knife, remove that fat and begin to fry it up in a nonstick pan. 

To the same pan, add 2 large chopped onions and one 8 ounce package of sliced mushrooms.  As you cook this there might not be enough fat in the pan to cook the onions and the mushrooms so slowly add the fat you skimmed off the top of the stock that you reserved.  Use only as much as you need, this will really give it flavor.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the mushroom-onion mixture to the simmering sauerkraut.  Continue to simmer the sauerkraut until the onions almost melt in your mouth, about an hour to an hour and a half.  Leave the lid 3/4 on top, allowing for some release of steam.  As it cooks, periodically taste and decide if it is sour enough for you.  If it is not, add back the sauerkraut juice you reserved from the jars to make it as sour as you like.  Also, you will need to salt and pepper it to your liking. 

This makes a big pot and can feed a crowd with leftovers.  It freezes well, so enjoy.

Smacznego (smatch-nE-go)!  The Polish equivalent of bon appetit.

Mom’s Sauerkraut (Kapusta)

3-1/2 pounds pork, neck bones
3 large onions, divided
3/4 pound smoked or regular hamhock
1 head of green cabbage, shredded
2 twenty-four ounce jars sauerkraut
1 eight ounce package sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste

To make kapusta, you are going to start by making a stock.  You will need 3-1/2 pounds of pork neck bones, they will have some meat on them.  These are easily found at the grocery store or from your butcher.  Just ask, if they don’t have them right then, it will not be a problem getting them by the next day. 

Place them in a roasting pan, on a rack (sprayed with PAM) and place them in a 350 degree oven for one hour, turning them over after thirty minutes.

In a large, heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), place the roasted neck bones, one large, yellow onion, quartered, and a 3/4 pound hamhock.  Fill with enough water to cover the ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for three hours.  When done, strain the stock, reserving separately the neck bones and the hamhock. Pour the liquid back into the pot and spoon off any fat accumulated on top.  Reserve this fat, you might need a little later.

Remove meat from the pork neck bones.  It will pull off and shred so easily.  Set aside.

My Mom uses a mixture of fresh and jarred sauerkraut in this recipe.  It really gives it a good flavor. 

Chop I head of green cabbage and open two 24 ounce jars of store-bought sauerkraut.  Drain the jarred sauerkraut, reserving the juice.

Bring the stock back to a boil, adding the cabbage, the jarred sauerkraut and the meat from the pork neck bones.  Let simmer while you prepare other ingredients.

The inside skin of the hamhock you reserved from the stock has a layer of fat.  With a knife, remove that fat and begin to fry it up in a nonstick pan. 

To the same pan, add 2 large chopped onions and one 8 ounce package of sliced mushrooms.  As you cook this there might not be enough fat in the pan to cook the onions and the mushrooms so slowly add the fat you skimmed off the top of the stock that you reserved.  Use only as much as you need, this will really give it flavor.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the mushroom-onion mixture to the simmering sauerkraut.  Continue to simmer the sauerkraut until the onions almost melt in your mouth, about an hour to an hour and a half.  Leave the lid 3/4 on top, allowing for some release of steam.  As it cooks, periodically taste and decide if it is sour enough for you.  If it is not, add back the sauerkraut juice you reserved from the jars to make it as sour as you like.  Also, you will need to salt and pepper it to your liking. 

This makes a big pot and can feed a crowd with leftovers.  It freezes well, so enjoy.

Post a Comment

61 Comments and 1 Reply

  1. nina 1

    You really are making precious memories with your mom and they will stay with you long after she has left…

    Reply
  2. Kim 2

    Kitchen memories are really special-we seem to continue to share them with our loved ones even when they are gone. This is a dish my dad would enjoy. I will make it for him when I visit this fall. Thanks for the story and recipe.

    Reply
  3. What a sweet story about your mother and father. I’m sure he was smiling down on both of you while you made it!

    Reply
  4. Julia 4

    This looks like an incredible dish and I can imagine it goes really well with the pierogis. I could totally make a meal of this!

    Reply
  5. Your Mom is something special!! I am sure that your Dad and my Dad are both smiling down( my Dad loved all things saurkraut).

    Reply
  6. Debi 6

    My grandparents were Polish, and I too grew up with found memories of Kapusta. My grandma sauteed onions in bacon drippings before adding packaged sauerkraut and brown sugar. It was served as a side dish or as a filling for the pierogis.
    If you think Kapusta is a funny word, how about Golumpkis? —Have you ever made them? I have modified my grandma’s recipe. If you are interested, let me know and I will send it to you.

    Reply
  7. I’ll bet my Captain would love this!
    Some kitchen scents bring about bittersweet memories for me too.

    Reply
  8. Growing up in a german family with a mom who couldn’t cook, sauerkraut to us was always out of a can. This recipe looks delicious and might even get me to enjoy sauerkraut.

    Reply
  9. Krista 9

    I’m sure that this tastes wonderful with the cabbage, pork, and mushrooms. No wonder your dad would be proud of this dish! It looks delicious!

    Reply
  10. Lea Ann 10

    oh Cathy this looks wonderful. I had homemade sauerkraut a few years ago and was amazed at how good (and different) it was from what you can purchase. I looked for a recipe, but couldn’t find a good one. Thanks so much for this post.
    Lea Ann

    Reply
  11. Flea 11

    I’m not a sauerkraut fan, but this I could do. Thank you for sharing such a personal recipe.

    Reply
  12. Melynda 12

    Thank you, thank you. I cannot wait to make this.

    Reply
  13. dawn 13

    I’ve had real sauerkraut only once at a Polish Wedding and it was to die for! I have to make this…have to! Thanks for the detailed recipe!!

    Reply
  14. Sharon 14

    Yum, LOVE this . I have been thinking of making this , now I have a recipe! I too love the aroma!

    Reply
  15. Biz 15

    Holy yum! I am the only person who likes sauerkraut in my house, but I am pretty sure I oould eat that whole pot!

    Hope you are having a great holiday!

    Reply
  16. At the point of reading this article i have found myself starving!

    I am intrigued in to foriegn cuisine as i am based within the UK I am only accustomed to traditional roast meats, pork, beef etc.

    However since coming across your blog you have inspired me to delve in to your cooking.

    Many thanks

    Reply
  17. Cassie 17

    Oh yum! I have homemade sauerkraut that would be wonderful with this!

    Reply
  18. Egghead 18

    This looks fantastic. My grandparents were Hungarian and my grandmother cooked lots of cabbage recipes. I just wish I had all of them. I will have to post a couple that I do have. I want to try this. It was so great that you did this with your mom. What memories!

    Reply
  19. Julie 19

    That looks just amazing…I’m sure your dad would have loved it!

    Reply
  20. Mary 20

    This looks like a labor of love, but I’ll wager the finished product is delicious.

    Reply
  21. I LOVE sauerkraut!

    Reply
  22. Marjie 22

    It’s wonderful that you got so much kitchen time with Mom, and brought back such happy memories!

    Reply
  23. WKF 23

    Holy Mother of Pearl!!! That looks insanely good. My Husband’s Mother is Polish and Irish. The last 2 recipes
    are going into my recipe file. I make a really good sauerkraut, but yours made me drool on my keyboard. My mother in law tells a story about a cookie her mother/ grandmother made around Christmas..Kruschecky ( spelling is way off) Her husband called them cross chickens. Can you steer me towards a recipe for them? Mother in law lost hers.

    Reply
  24. Erin 24

    First of all, I have to say THANK YOU for photographing the steps to ALL of your recipes. I tried to do the same today and could not believe how much work it was. Work to stop, photograph, then try to find another pair of hands to help. Wow! Thanks for all the great recipes and hard work you put into this blog! :)

    Reply
  25. Alta 25

    This looks so lovely. I love real sauerkraut, and have never made it. Will have to do this once the cooler weather sets in, as it would be so great to enjoy with a roast…pork, of course.

    Reply
  26. Katrina 26

    Hmmm? My husband would probably really like this. I know he grew up with a mom who likes sauerkraut and I think he likes the kick of it!

    Reply
  27. HoneyB 27

    Cathy! You should submit this to our family recipe event for September! Looks yummy!

    Reply
  28. Lisa Sipple 28

    Wow, this is truly a wonderful recipe. I can only imagine the flavors present here with what it’s made from…very nice.

    Reply
  29. elizabethk 29

    Bookmarking to make very soon. This would make my Polish hub very happy. Isn’t this, though – Bigos? I thought with the addition of the meat, and some jarred sauerkraut it sounded similar to that. Happy memories!!

    Reply
  30. What a blessing for you to be spending all that time with your Mom, cooking up memories! From your descriptions, I could almost smell the sauerkraut through the computer. I bet your Dad was smiling down that day!

    Reply
  31. dawn 31

    Aren’t you a lucky duck to be baking away right now? I am a HUGE fan of homemade sauerkraut. I can only imagine how good this smelled in the house. Right?

    Reply
  32. Deb 32

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I am so making this! I’ve been looking for this kind of recipe ever since attending our local Polish Festival this summer! Love your site and your reading about your new journey!
    Best of Luck!

    Reply
  33. pam 33

    This warms my big old polish heart!

    Reply
  34. annbb 34

    That looks wonderful! Had the plain old sauerkraut for lunch and I’m sure it pales in flavor compared to you and your mom’s ~kapusta~.

    Reply
  35. KathyB. 35

    I HAVE to make this! Everything I have been craving is in it, ( except the brussels sprouts)

    Reply
  36. Liz C. 36

    Can’t I just come out to Oregon and have yours? Something tells me I could never top your Mom’s method… or yours for that matter. As it should be, of course!

    Reply
  37. maris 37

    Wow, those are some exceptional photos. It sounds lik your mom was an amazing cook.

    Reply
  38. Bob 38

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like that! I’ll have to keep my eye out for neckbones.

    Reply
  39. grace 39

    my brother has recently become obsessed with sauerkraut (much to the dismay of anyone in a 50-yard radius of him), so i might pass this on to him if he ever gets inspired to make his own. :)

    Reply
  40. Laura 40

    You’ve been posting all these wonderful family recipes! You should submit some to our event.

    Anyway, this is totally fabulous. As were the pierogis, btw, I think I had trouble commenting that day. being of Polish stock myself, I completely appreciate a good pierogi.

    Reply
  41. I think I just died and went to cabbage heaven. That looks so good. Going to have to try this the next time our butcher calls and lets me know he has some ham hocks! Instead of making my 2-day-29-bean soup, I’ll make THIS!

    Reply
  42. Ramona 42

    Looks like comfort in a bowl.
    Ramona

    Reply
  43. This is an amazing recipe. I have never had it this way with the meat and mushrooms. Wonderful!

    Reply
  44. I love sauerkrat. This looks so good with the mushrooms and the pork.

    Reply
  45. You will be the picture of health, contrary to current health dictates traditional recipes such as these are the backbone to good health. You are having a great visit with your mother! Looks scrumptious.

    Reply
  46. This sounds so flavorful. The mushrooms look great in this!

    Reply
  47. LilSis 47

    We also grew up eating Sauerkraut. I like the addition of the mushrooms. We never made it with the pork in it, but it looks great.I love making dishes that were my dad’s favorites, too! Great memories!

    Reply
  48. Wow that looks crazy good!! I must try it!!

    Reply
  49. Paula 49

    I love this recipe, and I love the story that goes along with it. Ethnic influences of the Italian version were an enormous part of my upbringing, and I’m immediately drawn to other’s experiences as well. This is a great memory and recipe for you, and will be so for your kids, and their kids, and so on. LOVE IT!

    Reply
  50. Sharon 50

    This recipe sounds really great. I have a recipe that I found a few years ago for kapusta. I use pork chops and smoked sausage along with onion, cabbage, sourkraut and cream of mushroom soup. I know, cream of mushroom soup, but we think it is very good. It’s our New Years Day dinner along with smashed potatoes. I’ll give your recipe a try sometime soon. Sounds great!

    Reply
  51. Al W 51

    Cathy, On the off chance you don’t know this, you live in “pig neck bone” heaven. Carlton Farms on Saturday morning has all the piggy parts you’d ever want out in the big coolers at their retail shop. My 8 year old daughter and I make it a regular pilgrimage. Some days we’re looking for tongue or Oxtail and other days it might just be some pork butt. For father’s day we got a pig head and trotters and made head cheese. I’m trying to establish food traditions with my children as well as reinforce the notion that meat does not come from little styrofoam trays, but rather real animals and therefore needs to be treated with respect. I’m new to your blog, but see it becoming a regular part of my day. Keep up the good work and welcome to the valley. Al W

    Reply
  52. Al W 52

    Cathy, On the off chance you don’t know this, you live in “pig neck bone” heaven. Carlton Farms on Saturday morning has all the piggy parts you’d ever want out in the big coolers at thier retail shop. My 8 year old daughter and I make it a regular pilgrimage. Some days we’re looking for tongue or Oxtail and other days it might just be some pork butt. For fater’s day we got a pig head and trotters and made head cheese. I’m trying to establish food traditions with my children as well as reinforce the notion that meat does not come from little styrofoam trays, but rather real animals and therefore needs to be treated with respect. I’m new to your blog, but see it becomeing a regular part of my day. Keep up the good work and welcome to the valley.

    Reply
  53. OMG Cathy-this looks fantastic! My hubby would flip! I am not hearty enough to attempt the home made pierogi, but this…oh yes! Maybe another weekend project!

    Reply
  54. I’m not a fan of sauerkraut or kapusta ;-), but I enjoyed this post very much, Cathy. Glad you had this time together with your mom and I’m sure your dad looked on with joy.

    BTW, I made your original dairy version of the Snickerdoodles ice cream this evening for my mom’s BD and it was a big hit!! Can’t decide if I like this version or the non-dairy coconut milk version better. 😉

    Thanks so much for all your great recipes!
    Shirley

    Reply
  55. Karola 55

    Oh my does this bring back good memories of my sweet Polish Mother. I love kapust and all things with kruat or cabbage. My little grand daughters love it also. My mother and now myself stuff our turkey with kruat. I rinse my kruat a little. Thank You for the great recipes

    Reply
  56. very very good!!!!

    Reply
  57. Yellow Tulips 57

    I’m half Polish. This is one of my favorites too. My Babchie made it and she did call it Kapusta. I’ve never used neck bones to make it but will certainly give them a try. My grandmother usually used country-style pork spare ribs for the meat. My grandfather was a butcher and made his own Kielbasa for the holidays. Mom told stories about how she and her brothers and sisters would try to disappear at Kielbasa-making time. Apparently, my grandfather got quite vocal when the casings would burst if the kids over-filled them!

    Thank you for reigniting the memories.

    Reply
  58. Wendy Miko 58

    Kindly put me on your e- mail recipe list. Thanks, Wendy

    Reply
  59. Vicky 59

    This kraut sounds fabulous. I use neck bones too, but I never thought to add fresh cabbage to the kraut. I am of Slovakian decent, so I’m familiar with all things cabbage and kraut. My hubby and I have kraut or cabbage once a week. Thanks for this recipe.

    Reply
  60. Tracy Caldwell 60

    This was FABULOUS!!!!!! I added a little caraway seed and some polish kielbasa at the end for extra meat but this recipe would have been yummy without it! A great Halloweenie meal! We’ve been eating this for 4 days, it makes a ton so I’ll be making another batch for freezing. Thank you!

    Reply
  61. Monica 61

    I made your recipe this evening, and although it made a lot of dishes for myself, it was absolutely perfect and i cant wait to share it with my mother and grandmother. Perfect cold weather dish paired with mashed potatoes. I did not change one thing. Next time i may add another package of mushrooms as the addition of them was divine. Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply

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