Fermentation Fun – Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

My last batch of kraut from a little over a week ago. Or, what’s left of it.

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:

Cabbages

One green, one purple – pretty.

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.

Quartered  and cored

Quartered and cored

Shredded and salted

Shredded and salted

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.

Packing it into clean quart jars

Packing it into clean quart jars

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.

Crock Rocks

Crock Rocks

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.

Ready to start fermenting

Ready to start fermenting

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.

Delicious Sauerkraut - read to enjoy

Delicious Sauerkraut – read to enjoy

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.

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4 thoughts on “Fermentation Fun – Sauerkraut

  1. My last batch is way too old to add to fresh batch – how do I create brine to cover the cabbage, you don’t mention other moisture. Thanks Noeline

    • Thanks for asking. You actually don’t have to add any additional moisture. The salt will draw the liquid out of the cabbage to create a brine. That’s enough moisture. With the weight pressing it down enough to keep it all submerged it will ferment in about 5 days. The leftovers from the last batch just give it a little kick start but aren’t required.
      Have fun!

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