For the past year I have been fermenting and pickling. My pickles are still pretty sad but my sauerkraut is getting quite tasty. And it is really fast, easy, and healthy as well.
Cabbage, like most fruits and vegetables, has a lot of healthy bacteria and when fermented it contains a lot of healthy pro-biotics. And you still get all the benefits of raw food including essential nutrients and enzymes.
You will need:
1 head of cabbage – organic is best
1 tablespoon of salt – sea, Himalayan, or kosher
2 one quart mason jars with lids – I use the perforated lids used for sprouting seeds but any kind will do.
And that’s it! That is all you absolutely need, but you might want to add some extra good stuff in with the cabbage. I like to put in carrots and Vidalia onions with caraway seeds. Celery is good also and you can use a little celery juice later. Most veggies taste pretty good when fermented so go with your favorites and see how they turn out.
- I like to put the jars through the dishwasher before I start to make sure everything is clean, because we are dealing with bacteria here so it is good to be safe.
- Save two outer leaves of the cabbage and chop up the rest into a big bowl. Put in the salt and knead everything with your hands. Go ahead and squeeze the cabbage for at least 5 minutes. When you feel it becoming limp and wet, throw in the rest of your optional ingredients and keep going a few minutes longer.
- Put a handful of the mixture in a jar and tamp it down. I took a section of an old baseball bat and use the end as my tamper – don’t worry it is cleaned and sanitized in the dishwasher, but you can use anything with a flattish bottom. You will see the liquid ooze out of the cabbage. Keep filling and tamping until you get within 2 inches of the top of the jar.
- Take one of the outer leaves you saved, fold as needed, and tuck into the jar, pushing down and covering the mixture as much as possible
- The liquid should be about the same height as the mixture at this point. The cabbage needs to stay under liquid during the entire process so if you need some more, you can add water or even better add some celery juice. Not only does it taste better but the juice has similar preservative qualities as the salted cabbage juice.
- Before you put on the lid you want to make sure the mixture will stay below the liquid line. I cut a couple of 2’ sections off that old baseball bat and I jam one between the leaf and the lids. You can use anything that will fit and keep everything submerged, including more cabbage leaves.
- The fermentation process creates gases, so if you use a solid lid you need to leave it a bit ajar or crack it open every day so any gases can escape. I use a perforated lid covered with a cloth and some people just rubber band a dish towel over the jar.
- Store in a cool and dark place – I keep them in our basement. The sauerkraut starts tasting really good after just 1 week, but it will keep getting stronger and tastier so you might want to wait at least 10 days or even longer before serving. You can taste test until you are happy with it, and it will stop fermenting after you put it in the fridge.
- When you open it there may some mold on the top. Clean this off and do not eat it, but it will not affect anything under the liquid.
I hope this article gives you enough information and motivation to get started.