Your Own Sauerkraut
Scary, I know. But you can do it! Once you try Your Own Sauerkraut, you will be totally grossed out by the stuff in the bag at the grocery store. This is a great time of year to to make it too. All you fellow Polish folks out there will appreciate having some homemade kraut on Easter!
This is a classic way to prepare cabbage, and it’s also one of the most healthful! Fermented veggies are one of the least popular preparations in the US, but they are very prevalent in Asian and Middle Eastern diets. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso are fairly mainstream, but outside of that we just don’t see much in terms of fermentation.
Fermenting 001: The addition of salt to the vegetable or brine preserves the food through lacto-fermentation. During this process, the bacteria that is on the surface of the cabbage is slowly converted to lactic acid in the salty solution. The solution allows beneficial bacteria to flourish (the same probiotics that are present in yogurt and kefir), and keeps out the gross ones. This means that anything submerged in the brine will ferment nicely, but anything above the liquid level is fair game for all those aerobic bacteria to start an art project on. These probiotics live in your intestinal track and affect your internal environment and overall health and wellbeing.
There are only 2 ingredients, and just 1 rule. The ingredients? Cabbage and salt. The rule? Keep it submerged!
1 medium head of cabbage- I like to use red cabbage because I like the color
1.5 Tbsp Kosher salt
2, 1-liter Mason jars (wide mouth preferred), or a fermenting crock
2 smaller jars that will fit inside the large jars. These smaller jars will be weighted with water, sand, rocks, etc. Anything that will give it some weight.
- Chop the cabbage by hand or in a food processor. In a large bowl combine half the cabbage with half the salt and mix using your hands. Get a bit rough with it, squeezing and pushing the mixture a bit to get the cabbage to start releasing some of it’s liquid. Repeat with the second half of the cabbage and salt, then let it all sit in the bowl for 15 minutes.
- After the cabbage has released some of its juice, use your hands and stuff it in the large jars, packing it down lightly as you go. Pour the juice from the bowl into the jar. Place the smaller jar on top of the cabbage to press it down. If there is not enough liquid to cover the cabbage after 1 day, then mix a tablespoon of salt in 1 quart of water and pour that brine into the large jar until the cabbage is covered. Remember, the #1 rule is to keep the liquid level above the cabbage, so make sure the weight is keeping the cabbage pressed under the
- Cover the jar loosely with a lid or kitchen towel (pressure will build up as the fermentation occurs, so make sure the air can escape) and let it sit in a 65-75 degree area of your house, out of direct sunlight. Wait 3 days to 3 months, depending on how sour you like your kraut. It will be good for up to a year as long as it’s under the liquid!