What do you do when life gives you cabbage?
You make Sauerkraut!
But do you know the secret to the perfect crunchy and pleasantly sour sauerkraut?
Turns out that sauerkraut made at home is a thousand times better than the processed stuff that comes from the supermarket. Perfect for layering on burgers or sandwiches, they also make for great side dishes.
If you didn’t know already, homemade sauerkraut is exceptionally healthy as it is packed with probiotics, Vitamins B and C and enzymes.
Another great tidbit?
It is also very economical- you can prepare a jar of sauerkraut at home for as little as $4 compared to the $7-$12 you would pay for it at the farmers market.
Experimenting with fermentation can be a bit tricky if you are new to it but once your basics are clear, it is a brilliant way to customize your kraut the way you want to- plus it is an excellent health tonic!
Have a chat with E-Brian below to get the best bargains on cabbage tampers!
So, today, we show you how to make your own sauerkraut in a jar.
Ferment your very own homemade sauerkraut with these 12 easy steps-
1. Shred Some Cabbage
Take 2 round cabbages for a 2-liter jar of sauerkraut. First, start with removing the outer leaves and then, slice the cabbage in two halves through the stem end- do it with a sharp knife.
Proceed by cutting each piece in half again (from the stem end) to make quarters. Cut the core of the cabbage from each quarter and proceed to chop the cabbage into pieces as thick or thin as needed, horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference.
2. Measure The Cabbage
The first thing you need to do is to weigh both the bowl and shredded cabbage. So set a large bowl on top of a scale and see how much it weighs. Next, add the cabbage and note the whole weight. (best to do it in grams). Wooden bowls usually work best since there’s going to be some pounding involved later.
3. Salt Away
On to the next part!
It’s time to salt the cabbage- put in around 2% of the cabbage’s entire weight in salt. The salt percentage can vary from 1.5% to 2.5%, depending upon your taste preferences. If you would rather go for brinier sauerkraut, then sprinkle away but if you would prefer it to be less salty, then it is best to stick to 1.5%.
Additionally, if you would rather be on the safer side, then you can add about 2%. For example, say your cabbage weighs 2 kilograms, then you will add 40 grams of salt.
You can use your choice of salts but kosher, sea salt and pickling salt are the top choices! Stay away from salts with additives like iodine though- you don’t want your brine to turn cloudy and have a negative reaction on the fermentation.
4. Massage The Cabbage
Sprinkle the salt over the shredded cabbage thoroughly. Next, massage the cabbage till the salt is completely blended and the cabbage is just turning wet. Let the cabbage sit for around 10 minutes soaking up the salt thoroughly while you move on to the next step.
5. Disinfect The Fermenting Container
Ensure that the container you intend to ferment your sauerkraut in, is clean and does not contain any traces of harsh cleaners like detergent. To be on the safer side, it is advisable to rinse it again in a dishwasher or pour some boiling water into the container, let it sit for a few minutes and then empty it out. This will ensure your container is sufficiently sterilized.
The type of container you use can range from a mason jar to a fermenting crock. Avoid materials like copper, aluminum or cast iron as they react negatively to an acidic environment.
6. Pound The Cabbage
Pound, pound, pound!
This is where you can let go of all your stress. Use a pounder- be it a normal potato masher or something as dedicated as a cabbage tamper to pound the cabbage using all your strength and energy, until you can see the cabbage oozing out its liquid even when taken out of the mix.
7. Spice It Up
This is where you can add in the spices or herbs of your choice to personalize your sauerkraut- Chile flakes, rosemary, anything, and everything works!
8. Fill Your Fermenting Jar
Transfer the cabbage to the sterilized jar, a few handfuls at a time, pausing to pack it in firmly to the bottom of the jar. You can either use your hand or a 12-inch Cestash cabbage tamper to get rid of any air pockets before adding more cabbage. Empty any leftover brine from the bowl over the cabbage and press it down further until you are sure that all the cabbage has been packed tightly inside the jar.
Leave a little space on the top- about two to three inches between the lid and the top of the mixture for the next step. Make sure that the liquid doesn’t reach the top of the jar as that could cause it to bubble over when the fermentation starts.
9. Cover It Up And Use A Weight
Top the shredded cabbage with a cabbage leaf or a small plate, tucking it properly on the side and then follow it up with a weight. You can use a large stone or pebble (sterilized, of course!). Add more flavor to the sauerkraut by using a chunk of carrot or onion as a weight.
10. Time To Seal!
An airlock system tight enough to seal your sauerkraut jar is all you need for this step. Joe Sevier’s favorites are BPA-free silicone lids which let carbon dioxide escape without letting any air inside.
11. Store Your Jars
Kick off the fermentation by storing the jar at a cool room temperature, around 54°F to 70°F. Ensure that the temperature stays above that as anything lower would lead to the cabbage not fermenting as well as increasing the risk of decay. Keep it away from direct sunlight and leave it alone for 4-14 days. It’s best to keep it somewhere dark and check it every once in a while!
12. Taste Your Sauerkraut
Two weeks later, take off the lid and the weight and sample the sauerkraut! If it is pleasing to your taste buds then stash it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. If you want it to taste a little sourer, then put the weight and lid back on and store it again.
Keep tasting the sauerkraut occasionally until it gets the flavor that appeals to you and then proceed to stash your sauerkraut in the fridge where it is good to go for around 12 months.
Now you know that it is nearly impossible to mess up a basic sauerkraut which is prepared with just cabbage and salt. If you have never fermented anything before, then this is the perfect place to start. What’s more- you can also personalize your sauerkraut by adding your own blend of herbs and spices!
Get started and let us know your take on the recipe!