Video: 'Kaitlin' – A large, late-season mid-term storage cabbage for sauerkraut

'Kaitlin': Creamy white, high-quality, high dry-matter sauerkraut cabbage

Hi, I'm Steve Bellavia, the product manager for cabbage at Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Today we're here to talk about 'Kaitlin' sauerkraut cabbage. 'Kaitlin' was bred especially for kraut, and therefore has a very high dry matter content. By high dry matter content, we mean that it has less moisture, or water, than a typical fresh-market cabbage. What that means is, when you make kraut, you'll get a bigger yield from the same amount of weight of a kraut cabbage versus a fresh-market cabbage.

The trade-off, however, is that kraut cabbages aren't as good for fresh eating.

Basically, if you want to make sauerkraut, grow 'Kaitlin'.

If you want to eat your storage cabbage, grow one of the other varieties, such as 'Promise' or 'Storage No. 4'.

Here's a 'Kaitlin' head fresh out of storage. You can see, the leaves are pretty brown. If we take a few layers of leaves off, then we have a nice head ready to make sauerkraut. These heads here have been in storage for several months (5–6 months). 'Kaitlin' is a good midterm storage variety. You can see the outer leaves are brown now, but the inner leaves are still white.

The heads average around 8–12 pounds, and they have a nice creamy interior, which makes for a really nice sauerkraut.

Growing tips for 'Kaitlin':

  • We recommend transplanting the seedlings 24" apart, to get maximum head size, for maximum sauerkraut production.
  • Cabbages store best when they mature just before fall temperatures drop to around 25°F (-4°C).
  • At our research farm in Maine, this means we start the seedlings in mid-June, transplant them in late July, and harvest heads in mid-October. You can adjust your dates based on your local conditions. If you're unsure of when to sow the seeds in your area, you can consult your local Cooperative Extension agent for guidance.

A few storage tips:

  • Cabbages store very well into early spring, or even later, under optimal conditions of 32–36°F (0–2°C) and a relative humidity of at least 90%.
  • If you don't have these conditions, don't worry; you can store them in a root cellar or other cool and humid area. I live in an old house with an old-fashioned dirt floor cellar, where the temperature is often in the mid to high 40s, and my cabbages still store well into early spring.

Thank you for your time, and whether you're growing cabbages for your own kraut or you're growing to sell it at market, we wish you the best of luck.