How To: Ferment Sauerkraut
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Here is how I have tried to make sauerkraut- without a crock or any kind of fancy equipment! Just what I already have in the house.
Sauerkraut is cabbage that has been fermented. Normally made from finely shredded cabbage and salt. The salt preserves the cabbage for a few days while the probiotic bacteria begin to grow. Raw naturally fermented sauerkraut contains lactic acid and the living probiotic microorganisms that are beneficial to the digestive and immune systems.
Fermented cabbage has a long history of providing benefits for many different health conditions mainly because fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage.
I have used a mix of half red cabbage and half white cabbage cause I love both. Cabbage is one of the cruciferous vegetables which may have huge benefits on the digestive and hormonal systems. The vibrant colour of red cabbage reflects it concentration of protective phytonutrients, far more than a green cabbage. This enhances the claims to health benefits such as dietary antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Fermenting these (and adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to potentially further enhance them) make these nutrients a powerful mix of goodness and healing for the body.
Here is the recipe with directions and I have photos to follow
- 1/2 head of red cabbage thinly sliced
- 1/2 head of white cabbage thinly sliced
- 1-2% of cabbage weight in sea salt/ pink Himalayan salt (I generally use 1.5% weight)
- Mason Jar (or litre jar)
- Jar which will fit into the mouth of the mason jar or
- A ceramic crock/ glass fido jar with a wide opening with a plate on top to weigh down the cabbage
- Try and retain one of the outside leaves of the cabbage for later, cut out heart of cabbage
- Weigh the cabbage and times the weight by 0.015 to find out 1.5%. Weigh out that amount in salt.
- Thinly slice your cabbage.
- Add the thinly sliced cabbage to a non reactive bowl (plastic, glass, stainless steel or ceramic).
- Add the salt and get your hands in there to massage and work in the salt. The cabbage will quickly become softer and wilted. You will start to see water collecting in the bottom of the bowl.
- Add to the mason jar/ceramic crock pushing the cabbage down with a wooden spoon, potato masher or your other jar. You can also just use your fingers. You will notice the brine being created and rising up to the top of the cabbage.
- When all the cabbage is in the jar then you place the retained cabbage leaf on the top- this will ensure all the stray bits remain under the brine. Push the smaller jar down and weigh down with either ceramic baking beads, marbles or rocks. This step is not compulsory but does help the first few days of fermenting as it makes it easy to continue to push the kraut down to keep the cabbage in the brine.
- Leave for 1 week and taste, depending on the temperature and humidity levels of your fermenting spot- leave for up to 28 days. Ferment to taste so continue to taste and then refrigerate when you like it!
- Ensure that the cabbage stays under the brine to reduce mold and mildew growth.
Here are the baking beads I use to weigh down the smaller jar
Here is the jar set up again-underneath the jar you can see the whole leaf of cabbage to keep the little bits under the brine.
Thank you to here for the tip about the whole leaf of cabbage. Once the fermentation has been going a few days I will remove the second jar and put a lid on the jar.
If you use a lid be aware you need to release the build up of carbon dioxide which is a product of all fermentation. Depending on the speed of fermentation (which as mentioned before- depends on the temperature and humidity levels in your fermentation spot) this may be daily.
I will post below what it looks like over the next few days and weeks.
Isn’t it pretty!
To make things easier for you, here is my pdf printable notes for you to make it at home! Let me know what you flavour yours with…
If you love fermenting come and check out my collection of inspiration from around the web. Full of drinks, foods and everything bacteria! Let me know if you would like to be a contributor.