Best time for picking kraut cabbage in the Seattle area?
I live in mid-Michigan and have made my own sauerkraut for years. The rule of thumb for the best cabbage here is to use cabbage picked just before the first threat of frost--around Oct. 1--because the sugar content is at it's highest and the fermentation process turns out the best product.
My brother has lived in Snohomish for the last 30 years and now wants to try making his own for the first time. When I mentioned waiting another month or more he answered that he's thinks a: That the cabbage in his area won't get any better than it is now and b: Come late September the weather would be too cool to allow fermentation (he doesn't turn on his heat until it hits the low 50's).
Does anyone have canning experience with this up your way?
I'm with you. I wait until late September here in SEA. Never had a problem with the fermentation in cooler weather. The room where I keep the crock is generally in the 60s, 50s in winter. Fermentation is usually over in a couple weeks though I like to let it continue curing for 4-6 weeks total to get good and sour.
I make my kraut fermented/fresh instead of canned. I've been making delicious batches all summer! It's true, the cabbage gets better and sweeter around frost. However, it's also incredibly good now.
Your brother should make a batch of fermented kraut now and savor it until it's time for the colder-weather stuff. Or fit another batch in between now and then. Most of the farmers will be able to tell you when their cabbage will likely get sweeter from the cold/frost.
Here are details for how I made it, fyi: