Being the 1/8 inch German that I am, I have always had a love of sauerkraut. The problem is, short of authentic German restaurants, good sauerkraut is hard to find. The logical solution here, of course, was to make my own. After some messy trial and error (that involved vinegar-scented mold) I found a recipe I like. This sauerkraut has all the benefits of traditional fermented foods including the abundance of natural probiotics.
- If you can tolerate dairy, you can speed up the fermentation by adding 1/4 cup of whey per gallon made. Here’s how to make whey.
- This recipe can be scaled up or down. I’ve made it in gallon size glass jars with 3-4 heads of cabbage, 3-4 tablespoons of salt and 1/4 cup whey.
- If you can’t tolerate dairy but want to speed up the fermentation, you can start by buying a jar of Bubbies or similar traditionally fermented sauerkraut and then use the juice from that in place of the whey.
- Once you have achieved the desired fermentation, it is very important to store in the fridge.
- 25 lbs of cabbage
- 1 cup (approximate) Kosher or Pickling Salt (not table salt!)
- Large Crock or Container (around 5 gallons size, needs to be glass or enamel coated)
- 2 large plastic zip-lock bags (2 gallon freezer bags are best)
- Sanitize crock and utensils in dishwasher or with boiling water
- remove outer leaves and cores from cabbage
- Thinly slice cabbage-using a food processor greatly speeds this up!
- As you slice, mix 4 tbsp salt with every 5 lbs of cabbage and let stand in a bowl to wilt a little
- When juice starts to form on cabbage/salt mixture, pack tightly into crock using sanitized utensils or clean hands
- Repeat this until cabbage is within about 4-5 inches of top of container
- Pack down until water level rises above cabbage and all cabbage is entirely submerged
- If there is not enough liquid to cover cabbage, make a brine with 1½ tbsp salt in 1 quart of water. add cooled brine to crock until all cabbage is completely covered
- Once cabbage is submerged, fill a 2 gallon food-grade freezer bag with 2 quarts of water. place inside another 2 gallon bag
- Place brine-filled bag on top of cabbage in crock, making sure that it touched all edges and prevents air from reaching cabbage.
- Cover crock with plastic wrap and cloth or towel. tie tightly.
- Put crock in an area that will be between 70 and 75 degrees.
- Fermentation will begin within a day and take 3-5 weeks depending on temperature.
- After 3 weeks, check for desired tartness. If you are going to can, make it slightly more tart than usual as it will lose some tartness.
- Once fermented, it can be eaten right away, frozen or canned according to your canner’s instructions.
Ever fermented anything? How did it go?
Photo Credit: Suzanne Perazzini