A couple weeks ago, my mother- in- love started her jar of sauerkraut.
It's almost ready to eat, and I'm so excited to get to try it. And since there's only a couple of us here that will actually eat sauerkraut, I know I'll be getting plenty =)
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest lacto- fermented foods to make. All you need is fresh cabbage, real salt and a jar with a lid.
Then, there are a few basics you need to remember in order to make a good sauerkraut:
1. Use fresh cabbage. The better your ingredients, the better your food will be. Fermentation is a preservation process so you won’t get the best results with cabbage heads that are past their prime.
2. Use at least some salt. Salt is a traditional ingredient in sauerkraut because it increases shelf life, texture, and flavor.
3. Create an anaerobic environment. You have to submerge the shredded cabbage underneath a brine in order for the lactic acid bacteria to proliferate and preserve your sauerkraut.
4. Give it time. You can ferment sauerkraut for only a few days before moving to cold storage, but giving sauerkraut a lower temperature and longer fermentation time seems to develop the flavor and texture a little better than the fast-ferment method.
So, now that you know the basics, here's the recipe that we used for the sauerkraut.
2lbs of cabbage (either red or green)
4 tsp sea salt
large wooden cutting board
large mixing bowl
1 quart size mason jar or similar jar with tight fitting lid
Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard.
Quarter the cabbage and remove (cut out) the core.
Shred/ finely chop the cabbage. You can use a food processor if you want, just make sure it is a course shred.
With clean hands, firmly massage the mixture of cabbage and sea salt. This step could take up to 10 minutes.
Pack the mixture into jars. Make sure the cabbage is tightly pack with as few air bubbles as possible.
Leave about 1" at the top to allow room for expansion.
Close the lid and place the jar in a cool, dark place.
Check the sauerkraut everyday or two. Open the jar, smell it, taste it (with a clean fork) and pack it back down until the liquid rises above it.
It should take a few days to start seeing bubbles and a few more days to start smelling and tasting sour. You can eat it any time you want or put it in the refrigerator. Young sauerkraut is crunchy with a mild flavor and old sauerkraut is soggier and has a stronger flavor.