I’ve been a little obsessed with fermentation lately. I can’t get enough of the tangy, complex flavor of fermented foods. I currently have apple cider vinegar, sourdough starter, kombucha and several batches of sauerkraut fermenting in jars around my kitchen.
The sauerkraut is my favorite. I’ve been eating big bowls of it every day when I get home from work. Each day it is becomes a bit more flavorful and delicious.
I’ve been using Sandor Katz’s method and it couldn’t be easier.
The most important thing is finding a good way to weigh down the cabbage so that it all stays submerged in the brine it creates. I found these amazing glass weights made for wide mouth jars called “Crock Rocks” but they are a bit spendy at 25 buck for a set of 3. A smaller, water-filled jar that fits into the mouth of your fermenting jar works well too.
Here’s how you do it:
Slice two heads of cabbage into thin strips – I used a mandolin and it took no time at all. I used one purple and one white – I like the color they create together.
As you are slicing, occasionally sprinkle with sea salt ( it can be sea salt or kosher salt but not iodized salt. Iodine will kill the good bacteria.) Use about a total of one tablespoon for two heads of cabbage.
Toss it all a bit with your fingers to mix the salt in well and let it sit for about an hour. In this time the salt will begin pulling the moisture out of the cabbage and create the brine. It will also start to wilt a little so that it fits into the jars more easily.
Start stuffing it into 2 clean, wide-mouth quart jars. As you go, tamp it down with a wooden spoon or a wooden rolling pin – whatever is handy. Press pretty hard – you want it packed in well.
Keep stuffing and pressing till it’s all stuffed in ( or as much as you can fit.) Then, pour in any liquid left in the bowl. At this point, I add the remaining kraut and juice from my last batch to the top.
Then add the weights and press down on them. I find that two of the crock rocks work better than one. I also used some marble ramekins but found the acid was eating away at them so I stopped. A small jar filled with water is a good option.
Now, cover with 2 layers of cheesecloth and add the ring part of the lid ( or you could use baker’s twine or a rubber band.)
Set it in a dark corner, away from smoke or direct sunlight. It should start tasting like kraut in a few days and within a week will be delicious. Each time you eat some, press it back down firmly, rinse off the weight and return it, pressing down to keep all the kraut submerged. This is important. If it is not submerged, it will mold, turn brown or generally get icky. Toss any discolored or questionable bits out.
My first batch was too salty and took a long time to ferment but I seem to have found the right balance with 1 tablespoon of salt for two cabbages. I’ve been on a cycle of creating 2 quart jars full every week or so and having just enough left to add to the next batch.
I seriously crave this delicious bowl of probiotics every day and even drink the juice that’s left in the bottom of the bowl.