Making your own fermented sauerkraut is easy.
Also, sauerkraut is delicious.
ALSO, sauerkraut is also a SUPER healthy food to consume on the regular.
Fermented sauerkraut is probiotic and prebiotic. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable nutrient powerhouse that is naturally full of all the invaluable fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, glutathione and sulfurous phytochemicals that support healthy detoxification.
If you are looking to increase your consumption of fermented foods, homemade 'kraut is a great place to start. You can easily add extras like herbs, spices, onion, garlic and more to personalize your amazing homemade ferment :)
All you need is:
some cabbage (green or red)
a wide mouth jar (ideally one that you can get your hands into)
If you can find a 1 gallon jar or bigger I always recommend doing a big batch.
The basic instructions are simple:
1. Chop cabbage
2. Salt it and crunch it (use approx. 3 tbs salt : 3 lbs cabbage)
3. Pack jar/ weigh it down
4. Cover it
5. Ferment it at room temperature
More detailed instructions and troubleshooting below.
1. CHOP CABBAGE.
Chop your cabbage to desired size, big or small will work it’s entirely up to your personal preferences. One small cabbage will usually more than fill a 1 Liter mason jar.
2. SALT & CRUNCH.
In manageable amounts, add chopped cabbage to bowl and sprinkle with sea salt.
As you salt, crush the cabbage vigorously until it is very wet and juicy. Really mash it! this breaks apart the cell walls, so water is released. A natural brine is formed with only cabbage juice and salt.
In my experience one medium cabbage will weigh around 3 lbs.
Use approx. 3 tbs salt : 3 lbs cabbage
3. PACK JAR & WEIGH IT DOWN.
Pack the cabbage tightly into the jar. As you pack, the brine liquid level should raise steadily. Some cabbages are juicier than others and it can sometimes take up to 24hrs for salt to draw more moisture out of the cabbage so you if you don't have enough right away be patient!
When you reach the top of the jar ideally you will use something to hold everything down underneath the surface of the brine. Try using: a clean weight, smaller jar, shot glass, ramekin, large piece of cabbage etc.
An anaerobic (oxygen free) environment is necessary for lacto-fermentation to occur so making sure to keep the solids submerged underneath the brine is vital.
4. COVER IT YOUR 'KRAUT. A variety of different methods will all work effectively. You must keep it clean from bugs and debris but also make sure that there is air flow so that gases can escape. You can use: a clean cloth, or one of any number of air-lock devices that are commercially available. I regularly use a 'loose lid' aka a jar lid left slightly unscrewed. The anaerobic environment of the salt brine is what 'makes' the 'kraut. The lid functions to keep the ferment clean while also allowing for the release of fermentation gases.
5. FERMENT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. Remember that room temperature can vary highly from house to house. Sauerkraut can be ‘done’ enough to eat after a few weeks but also could be left for a few months if the conditions were cool enough (fall/winter ferments) When it is done to your liking you can transfer to the fridge (cold temperature will slow the fermentation process) and your ‘kraut will be good for months. The flavor and texture may change as times passes but the food will still be preserved with all the prebiotic and probiotic benefits.
TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR ‘KRAUT
• Not enough liquid when you are finished packing your jar? Make some brine (ratio for classic brine is 1tbs sea salt : 1 cup filtered water) and top it up so that all the solids are submerged. Remember, sometimes the liquid will rise substantially in the first 24 hours so be patient!
• It can be a good idea to leave some spare room at the top of your jar because sometimes brine levels may go up or down as time passes.
• ALWAYS remember to store your ferment on a plate or bowl that can catch excess liquid. Liquid levels may sometimes rise substantially and overflow.
• Make sure to check on your ‘kraut every couple of days to make sure everything is still submerged. Top up with brine if required.
• Where to keep it? Somewhere cool (Too hot is bad, the colder the temperature the longer your ferment will take) and dark (no direct sunlight) and clean (not under the sink/near garbage etc).
• How long to leave your ferment? The time it takes for your ferment to be done depends on the temperature. Fall ferments that are left in a cool place may be left to ferment for even a few months but that would be far too long in the summer heat.
What if the top layer looks ‘weird’?
• Weird foamy stuff coming up around the sides in the first few days? That happens sometimes and is perfectly normal. Skim off foam that appears and keep the edges of the jar clean. Don’t worry, everything that is submerged underneath the brine should be fine.
• Did you forget to check on it and the top layer wasn’t submerged for a few days and looks a bit grey or limp? You can scoop off that layer and everything that was submerged under the brine is likely fine.
•If you get MOLD (pink, green, blue, brown, black) you should discard your ferment.
•If you have a white film this may be Kahm yeast which isn’t ideal but does not ruin the edibility of your ferment. Best to consume this item more quickly.
•Trust your instincts.