Fermented vegetables should be eaten daily to aid in digestion, heal the gut and aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Making sauerkraut is one of the cheapest and easiest fermented foods you can make and it’s versatile.
Sauerkraut goes well with many foods. It’s not just for bratwurst or hot dogs. I add it to burgers, sandwiches, eggs, avocado toast, eat it with chips, pile it on baked potatoes, salads and serve it as a side to every meal I eat.
Cabbage and salt make up the ingredients for sauerkraut. Veggies, fruit, spices and herbs can be added to make different variations of sauerkraut including kimchi. Unlike salt brining where we make a salt water brine and then add the vegetables, we will use a dry salting method to make sauerkraut.
The salt is mixed and massaged either with your hands or a vegetable pounder into the cabbage. The salt draws out the liquid from the cabbage creating its own brine.
Once the liquid is drawn out of the cabbage, it’s packed tightly into a mason jar and becomes submerged under its own juices, creating an oxygen-free environment where lactobacillus bacteria can thrive and bad bacteria cannot.
The acid from the bacteria give the sauerkraut it’s tangy, sour flavor. There are many vegetables and spices that go very well with sauerkraut. My favorites are adding ginger for a simple variation or adding several veggies and spices to make a kimchi or my favorite, Pineapple Turmeric Sauerkraut.
Tools You’ll Need To Make Sauerkraut
There are many different types of jars, crocks, containers, slicing tools and gadgets that can be used to make fermented foods.
For the purpose of keeping it simple, you’ll only need
- 1 Quart sized mason jar
- A knife
- Cutting board
- Sea salt – I highly recommend using Fine Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt.
- Cabbage and other ingredients from recipes below
- Airlocks, Weights, Or Vegetable Pounders make it easier, but are optional.
How To Make Sauerkraut
- 1 Head Of Cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon Of Sea Salt
- Pull 3 outer leaves off the head of cabbage, set aside and cut cabbage in half.
- Remove the cores from the cabbage and set aside.
- Cut the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. You can also use a food processor or cabbage shredder for this step.
- Add the salt to the cabbage. Using your hands, mix and massage (squeeze) the salt into the cabbage for 5 minutes. Set the cabbage aside and let it sit for 15-20 minutes so the sea salt has time to draw out the liquid and make the cabbage soft.
- Mix and squeeze the cabbage until it's soft and when squeezed juice comes out. If you want to add other veggies, spices or herbs to your kraut, do it in this step. Mix and squeeze them with the cabbage.
- Pack the cabbage in the mason jar tightly with either your hand or a vegetable pounder. Push it all the way down until it submerges in its own juices (this is the brine).
- Fill the jar until there is about 1-2 inches of space from the top. Pour the rest of the brine into the jar to cover the cabbage in brine.
- Take one of the cabbage cores and place it on top of the cabbage. This will act as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Or use a fermentation weight to keep it submerged.
- Roll up one of the outer cabbage leaves you set aside in step 1. Stuff the rolled up cabbage leaf on top of the cabbage core. This will keep the sauerkraut under the brine.
- Screw on the jar loosely so gas can escape as fermentation takes place Or use and airlock lid. Set on the counter for 5-7 days in a cool, shaded place.
- Place a plate under the mason jar in case it bubbles over and makes a mess.
- During fermentation the sauerkraut will bubble, become dull in color and the brine will get cloudy. When ready, store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator. Remove the rolled up cabbage leaves and toss in the garbage before eating. Sauerkraut will last for several months.
How To Tell Your Sauerkraut Is Fermenting
- The sauerkraut will become duller in color.
- The brine will become cloudy.
- Small air pockets will form.
- When you open a lid (if it was closed tight in the first place) gas will escape making a hiss sound.
- It will take on a tangy flavor.