For me, sustainable living and self-sufficiency are very closely linked. Self sufficiency usually means growing at least a portion of your own food, which sometimes means preserving your harvest! From another perspective, buying real sauerkraut can be real expensive (and sometimes the sauerkraut from the store isn't even actually fermented, it's just cooked in vinegar). $8 for a pint of kraut is too much to spend on my habit. And since you know I wholeheartedly believe in DIY for a million reasons, I wanted to point out a cool DIY tool I found a while ago that I want to try out. It's a sauerkraut/pickle making jar system. It's called the "Picklemeister".
The Picklemeister comes in 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon sizes. It's basically a big glass jar with a seal and an airlock. You cut up your cabbage (for sauerkraut), add salt, a plastic bag of brine, and let the jar sit for 3 days. Then you have a gallon of sauerkraut!
I found the Picklemeister for sale at a few different websites. It's about $20 + $10 shipping. I feel like it's definitely worth it and will pay for itself after just one 1-gallon batch.
However, if you're super thrifty like me, and like the fun and satisfaction of making things yourself, you might just make your own Picklemeister type tool. I'm on the look out for a big glass jar with a screw-on plastic lid. It'll probably be one of those old fashioned glass juice/sun tea jars with the funny fruit/flower screen prints on the outside. I have seen them at the second hand store for about $2 (of course not since I've been seeking them out - but I'll find one!). Then I'll just need to buy the airlock ($1.50) and drill a little whole in the lid of the jar for it (and put some sort of gasket around the opening). Total estimated cost? My budget is $5.00! Not too bad!! I'll do a post about my DIY picklemeister experiment when I find the jar!