Home-made Sauerkraut

Well, things have been crazy, so I haven’t posted in eons… But, I have to share this. My lovely husband gave me a 4 liter (~1 gallon) water-sealed fermentation jar for my birthday and I initiated it with a batch of Sauerkraut. Making Sauerkraut is actually really easy and only requires 2-3 ingredients. It is also very healthy, full of probiotics and vitamins, which is why German sailors used to bring it along on ships to prevent scurvy. And of course homemade tastes a lot better than the stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Eat it raw as a side or add a little to stews or stir fries.

Ingredients

2 medium cabbages
3 tablespoons salt (use sea salt or kosher salt, iodine can interfere with fermentation)
water (if needed)
optional seasonings: caraway seeds or juniper berries

Instructions

Step 1

Sterilize your fermenting container by rinsing with boiling water. If you don’t have a fermentation crock you can also make Sauerkraut in a glass or food-grade plastic container.

Step 2

Finely shred the cabbages reserving a few large leaves.

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Step 3

Layer 1-2 inches of shredded cabbage into the container and sprinkle with salt. Make sure to press down the cabbage.

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Step 4

Repeat step 3 until the container is three quarters full. (Don’t fill all the way or the fermentation process will make it bubble over).

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Step 5

Top the shredded cabbage with the whole leaves to prevent floaters. Add weights to put pressure on the cabbage. Inserting a smaller container that has been filled with water works well if you don’t have weights.

Step 6

Check on the Sauerkraut after 24 hours, when the salt has had time to pull the juices out of the cabbage. If the juices do not cover the cabbage by this time, add water that has been boiled (to sterilize and eliminate any chlorine) and then cooled. Exposure to oxygen allows the cabbage to mold, so it is important to keep it covered in liquid. If the cabbage is fresh and under enough pressure, water is not generally needed, but with or without extra water, the flavor is the same.

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Step 7

Wait 4-6 weeks for best flavor. The Sauerkraut can be eaten at any stage, so feel free to check on the Sauerkraut periodically and taste a sample. Fermentation time depends somewhat on temperature. So if it is kept in a cool place, it will take longer. Fermenting at temperatures approaching 80 degrees and above is not recommended as the Sauerkraut tends to develop an off flavor or go bad. Once the Sauerkraut has reached the desired level of doneness, it can be refrigerated to prevent it from further fermenting. You can also keep it at room temperature, though it will continue to become more sour.

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