The only thing better than daydreaming about the spring garden is daydreaming about the first fresh-from-the-earth harvest. You determined souls who start your own seeds may be getting ready to sprout cold-weather crops like cabbage. If, down the road, you find yourself with more cabbage than you know what to do with, grab one of these handy “cabbage cutters” and make a huge batch of sauerkraut to be stored and savored throughout the year.
The three metal blades on the cabbage or “kraut” cutter from the La Crosse County Historical Society’s collection would make quick work of a full head of cabbage. This particular cutter, made by Tucker and Dorsey Manufacturing Co. in Indianapolis, included a small wooden box that slid up and down over the blades. The enterprising home cook would put a cabbage head in the box and run the box repeatedly over the blades until the cabbage had been reduced to shreds. The cook would then layer the cabbage with salt in a huge crock, and weigh the whole thing down with a heavy object. (If you’ve ever found an enormous lake stone in your grandparents’ basement, this might be why.) After that, it’s only a matter of waiting for the cabbage and salt to ferment into that tangy slaw we all love to eat with our Oktoberfest brats.
Look for “Things That Matter” each week in the La Crosse Tribune, from the La Crosse County Historical Society.
Wooden kraut/cabbage cutter with three metal blades in the center. There are grooves on right and left sides in the front, missing box which fits into groves. Printe don the top back I 645-W. Kraut Cutter. T&D MFG. Co. INDPLS, IND. T&D stands for Tucker and Dorsey.
Used to make sauerkraut, a person would push a cabbage in a small boxed frame which would fit in the grooves of the kraut cutter. Then the person would push the box over the blades repeatedly until the whole cabbage was used. The shredded cabbage would fall into a container underneath. Once the first layer of cabbage was laid in the container a layer of salt would be added on top and then another layer of cabbage and another layer of salt repeated until they had the amount they wanted. A cloth would be put over the layers and a heavy object would be placed on top to apply pressure. The cabbage would then be left to ferment.
This article was originally featured in the La Crosse Tribune.