I love sauerkraut and its tangy, briny and savory flavor. I was pretty sold by this Balanced Bites article and knew that it was something I wanted to incorporate into my diet on a regular basis. However, I also decided that driving 60 minutes round trip to the nearest Whole Paycheck (the closest store that carries RAW sauerkraut) wasn’t worth it and that damn it, it looked simple enough to make after doing some research on-line. The only hitch is that fermenting your own sauerkraut takes something that money cannot buy…patience. It’s going to be approximately a 2 week process so if that’s too long to wait, store-bought will work but be sure that it’s raw/uncooked to preserve the “probiotics” (a lovely euphemism for bacteria). If you didn’t pay very good attention during biology class
shame on you, do a quick search on fermentation. Essentially, you need an anaerobic environment for the bacteria to work their magic and transform your cabbage into yummy eats
I’m definitely going to invest in a crock especially for making sauerkraut…I used the crock from my slow cooker for my first batch, and it worked great but took my 3rd-most-favorite-piece-of-kitchen-equipment (Vitamix and espresso machine are #1 and #2 in case you are curious haha) out of commission for 2 weeks = no bueno! I think you’d be okay with using a large glass bowl or even something like a deep ceramic casserole dish as well. In other words, it’s okay to be frugal and not spend bucks on something you’re not sure you are going to use frequently.
I fermented my kraut for 14 days on the countertop here in balmy San Diego…if you live in a colder climate it may take longer for the cabbage to develop the flavor you are looking for. While mine came out pretty darn tasty, next time I’d slice the cabbage thinner by hand instead of running it through a food pro as the slices came out a bit on the thick side.
What you will need:
- large head of cabbage (I chose red because frankly it looks cool, but green works just fine)
- sea salt
- a large crock (ceramic)
- small plate
- large measuring cup
- kitchen towel
- Slice cabbage thinly and add to crock in layers. With every couple inches of cabbage I added, I sprinkled in some sea salt (don’t go too crazy) and then tamped it down hard with a vegetable masher. Don’t be afraid to beat up on the cabbage a bit. You want to create a situation where the juices from the cabbage will be drawn out…anyone remember what hypertonic means?! ;) Repeat until you’ve used up all the cabbage.
- Weight the cabbage down with a plate and the measuring cup (full of water). You have options here (I even read about using a scrubbed and boiled rock as a weight…no thanks but it would work) so use what’s on hand. Cover with a kitchen towel.
- Check cabbage a few times in the first day. It should be creating a little of its own juice, though this depends on how old your cabbage was. After the first day, fill the crock up with water until the level is above the cabbage. Check periodically and add extra water as it may evaporate a bit.
- Taste test the kraut after about a week. Again, it will ferment faster in warmer climates. When done, pack the kraut into jars and refrigerate.