Making sauerkraut is the gateway recipe to fermentation success. Here's how to make sauerkraut: shred cabbage, add salt, put in jar. Done. In this recipe video i wanted to show that making sauerkraut does not have to involve large fermentation crocks and lots of work. This is small batch kraut made easy.
Making Sauerkraut Is Not Rocket Science
I've heard from a few people about their fermentation failures, usually with a recipe for making sauerkraut. The first time I tried to make it, it didn't work out. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is using tap water that has been chlorinated. I figured this out when I was baking bread, I found that using water from our Brita Water Filter Pitcher allowed the yeast to work much better.
This sauerkraut how to is based on the methods laid out by Leda Meredith in her book, Preserving Everything. I think a lot of people have this impression that you have to have big fermentation crocks and tons of cabbage to make this. Leda's method uses mason jars. You can use most any glass jar, you just need to be able to cover the jar in some way. Either with a lid or maybe plastic wrap with a rubber band to cover the top – whatever works for you. What does not work is metal containers, use only ceramic, glass, or food grade plastic. If you use a plastic container, it will smell like fermented food forever after, in my experience.
How you chop the cabbage for making sauerkraut is a matter of preference. Basically, do you like chunky or fine kraut? If you cut the cabbage with a knife, you can get chunky cabbage. If you use a knife, mash and crush the cabbage before adding it to the jar, you want to break down the cell walls of the cabbage leaves to allow the fermentation to start quickly.
You want the cabbage to start making a brine fairly quickly, which is why I like to use a food processor to shred the cabbage. This method lets a lot of liquid out of the leaves and mixes with the coarse salt you've added to make the brine.
If the brine does not start by itself within an hour, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a cup of filtered water, and top up the jar. Some cabbage will always float a bit, but you want most of the cabbage submerged.
Press down the cabbage, if you see some bubbles come up out of the brine, you are making sauerkraut. If you don't see bubbles, be patient, wait up to 4 days, just be sure the brine is topped off and keep the jar in a dark place. You can start eating the kraut after it has been fermenting for 3 days, but I like to wait at least 1 week. Some people wait a month.
After the initial 3-4 days of fermentation, I keep my sauerkraut in the fridge, I think it mellows the kraut, and it will keep for 6 months. Visit Leda's website for great foraging info and food preservation recipes.
- One small head green cabbage
- 1½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Filtered water
- One pint mason jar
- Remove any wilted parts of the cabbage
- Cut cabbage in half lengthwise, then cut each side into quarters.
- Put shredding blade on food process and shred the cabbage.
- Layer the cabbage into a pint mason jar, adding about 1" of cabbage, then some of the salt.
- Press down the cabbage a few times while adding the layers.
- Add cabbage until the level reaches about ¼" below the rim of the jar.
- Let sit for 1-2 hours.
- If brine does not develop, add ½ teaspoon salt into 1 cup water, and add to top of cabbage.
- Keep cabbage submerged in brine, add saltwater mix as needed.
- Put on jar lid loosely, let sit in a dark place to ferment for 3-4 days.
- Tighten jar lid and refrigerate.
- Kraut keeps for 6 months.
- If you use a quart mason jar, double this recipe.