Beet Ginger Sauerkraut has long been on my agenda to make, especially after I picked up a bag from Farmhouse Cultures. It was so delicious, and while buying it pre-made is convenient, it’s far more affordable to make it myself. The beets add a bit of sweetness—plus, the color is fantastic—and the ginger is so flavorful and provides a little bite.
I have a few sauerkraut / fermentation posts on this site already, and this isn’t really any different from those. If you’re a newbie to making sauerkraut, take a deep breath (it’s going to be okay!), and read through the whole post before you start the process. It’s actually very, very simple but there are a couple key points to remember:
- This method uses lacto-fermentation with only salt and whatever Lactobacillus bacteria are kickin’ around your kitchen environment. There is no whey in this method.
- The veggies must stay submerged under the brine (in an anaerobic environment) the *whole* time you’re fermenting them…and even after they’re done. If not, they’ll mold quickly.
- Clean all your glassware, utensils and hands well before you start. For extra insurance against contamination, rinse everything with white vinegar.
- You don’t have to use a fancy fermentation cap like this, but they make the process a bit easier, and there’s less chance of contamination. I used the Kraut Source prototype for this batch, and I’m super impressed at how simple it was. It was especially good at keeping the veggies submerged. They are about to finish their Kickstarter, so get in on it while you can!
- I’ve included a troubleshooting section at the end of this post, so if you’re seeing odd things during fermentation, check there to see if it’s normal or you should toss your ferment.
Prep time: 30 min Ferment time: 7–14 days Makes: 1-quart (946 mL) jar
Ingredients for Beet Ginger Sauerkraut
- 2 lb (907 g) green cabbage (you’ll use half unless making a double batch)
- 8 oz (227 g) red beets
- 2–3 oz (57–85 g) fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 tbsp (22 g) coarse sea salt (I like this one)
- If you need extra brine, use 1 tsp (5 g) salt in 1 cup (237 mL) water
Directions for Beet Ginger Sauerkraut
The basic method for making sauerkraut goes like this:
Thinly slice the vegetables, then salt them. Pulverize the veggies by crushing them with your hands to release the juices. Pack them tightly into a jar, submerging the veggies underneath the brine. Cover with something—like fabric—so dust and bugs stay out, but air can still escape. (Gas is generated as part of the fermentation process, so don’t cover it with an airtight lid unless it’s one specifically made for fermenting or you run the risk of the jar exploding due to pressure.) Let it sit in a dark cabinet for at least a week—or longer, depending on how sour you like it—then refrigerate.
For this batch:
- Cut the cabbage in half. You’ll only be using half for this recipe, unless you decide to double it. (In that case, you’ll need to double the amount of beets, ginger, and sea salt, and you’ll need another jar set-up.) Very thinly slice the cabbage. I used a mandolin, but I’ve done it plenty of times with a sharp knife. Toss the cabbage into a very large bowl.
- To prepare the beets, I scrubbed but didn’t peel them. If you’d like, you can peel them, but it’s just an extra step. I thinly sliced the beets into rounds using a mandolin, then stacked them up, and sliced them into matchsticks. Alternatively, you could shred them in a food processor or with a box grater (but that is SUPER messy because beet juice stains). Place the beets into the bowl with the cabbage.
- For the ginger, I grated it down finely using a microplane grater. You could also mince it by hand, just be sure the pieces are very small since biting into chunks of ginger is very spicy. Place the grated ginger in the bowl with the beets and cabbage.
- Now, add the salt. With clean hands, start to scrunch the veggies as you mix everything together. You have to get aggressive here because you’re trying to break down the cells in the veggies and (with the help of the salt) draw out the moisture. This takes at least 5 minutes of scrunching and squeezing. (Yay for kitchen fitness!) If there’s not a lot of moisture after that time, add more by making some brine (salt water) with 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water. Some cabbages are just drier than others. C’est la vie!
- Pack the veggies into a wide-mouth quart-sized Mason jar. Really push them down. (I use my fist or a spoon.) The veggies should come up to about the shoulder of the jar. If there is not at least an inch of liquid covering the veggies, add some brine to cover. Now, you have a couple options: use a special lid for fermenting to cap it all off or use a simple DIY cover. For this batch, I used a new prototype lid from Kraut Source. It uses a spring mechanism to hold the veggies down under the brine. However, if you don’t have that, the other method I’ve used successfully is to place a 4-ounce jelly jar INTO the wide-mouth jar to keep the veggies submerged. It works really, really well. Click here to see pictures and video.
- Place the jar into a bowl or on a plate in case any liquid bubbles out. If you’re using the jar in jar method, cover with a kitchen towel and place in a cupboard or pantry for at least a week. Check the level of the liquid every couple days. If the level has dropped, add more brine. After a week, remove a bit of kraut with a fork and test the flavor. If it’s not sour enough for your liking, keep fermenting. (I find that it’s good for me around 10-14 days, but everyone is different. Some like to keep it going for weeks!) When it’s done, cover with a metal Mason jar lid and refrigerate. Keeps for a few months. Remember to keep the kraut submerged in brine the whole time, even in the fridge or it’ll mold.
Troubleshooting your Beet Ginger Sauerkraut
- My veggies are slimy. Bad bacteria have probably started to grow in your jar. Best to toss it out to be safe.
- My veggies have run out of liquid. If this was recent, within a day or so, top off with more brine. If it’s been several days, you may want to throw it out and start again.
- Help! My veggies are foaming! This is normal especially after the first couple days of fermentation because gases are being released by the bacteria and can cause bubbles or foam. You can skim the foam and keep on rockin’.
- I see white stuff at the bottom of the jar. Is this okay? Yes. These are the bacteria. It’s totally normal.
- Um, my veggies have greenish-black mold on top. If you’re adventurous, you can skim it and keep going. This is how moldy ferment has been dealt with for ages (and I can tell you lots of stories about what they do with moldy cheese in the grocery store). If you’re totally grossed out, just start over.
- It’s been a couple weeks and the veggies still aren’t sour or tangy. You may have them in too cold of a spot. Try putting them in a warmer location to speed up the process a bit.