Easy Saurkraut

Author: Stephanie Selinger

Prep time: 15–20 minutes                                                                                                

Fermenting time: 4 weeks                                                                                                        

Yield: Roughly four cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cabbage, any variety
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, more if desired
  • Filtered water, as needed

Tools:

  • Clean, 24-ounce mason jar w/lid (you won’t need the lid until the end)
  • Shot glass or other object of similar weight and size to serve as a weight

 Additional minor ingredients (make sure your mixture is mostly cabbage):

  • Thinly sliced apple or pear
  • Shredded beets
  • Shredded carrot
  • Onions, thinly sliced
  • Garlic, finely chopped

Seasonings (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon Caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Directions:

1. When fermenting, it's best to give the good bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with a clean environment. Make sure your mason jar is are washed and rinsed well. You'll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so ensure your hands are clean too.

2. Pull off and set aside 2 outer leaves from the cabbage. Finely shred the remainder.

3. In a large mixing bowl combine the cabbage with the sea salt by hand. You'll want to spend quite a bit of time on this step (usually about 15 min!), until the cabbage starts to get all juicy and you have liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl. It might get sort of foamy too. Taste the cabbage throughout; it should taste pretty salty. Add any additional ingredients now and incorporate well.

4. Pack the veggies into your fermenting vessel (a 24-ounce Mason jar and lid works great). You'll want to stuff the jar with an inch or two of cabbage and pack it tightly down, then add another inch or two and repeat. Liquid should come up and cover the veggies at each stage of the packing and layering. Pack the veggies until you reach the top of the jar, leaving about an inch or two of space. You want to make sure your veggies are below their liquid/brine. If needed, add a splash of filtered water until the veggies are completely covered. Or you may need a smaller jar (depending on size of cabbage used).

5. Layer the top of the veggies with the reserved folded outer cabbage leaves and place a weight (like a shot glass) in the jar to keep the liquid over the cabbage. 

6. Cover jar with a towel and place somewhere that doesn’t get direct sunlight. I generally store the jar on a plate (because sometimes the brine will overflow) in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want slower fermentation that will preserve the sauerkraut for longer.

7. Check the kraut every two to three days. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. You may want/need to periodically pack your veggies down with a spoon or the shot glass. If you need to add extra liquid, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage again.  Add the extra liquid as often as needed.

8. Sometimes mold appears on the surface (this rarely happens in my experience). Skim what you can off of the surface; however, it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine.

9.  After about 4 weeks, you can taste your kraut (you are always welcome to taste it earlier, it wont hurt!). It should taste sour and slightly salty with a tangy flavor and have a nice but strong aroma. If it tastes good, it's good. If it tastes bad, you may need to scrape off the top layer and discard it, then see if the kraut tastes yummy beneath the liquid. Once the taste is to your liking, seal and store it in the fridge for months. Enjoy!