Sauerkraut is a super healthy inexpensive food. Since it’s cultured, beneficial bacteria are plentiful (like yogurt), it’s dairy free for those sensitive to dairy, and the culturing also makes the cabbage easier to digest and absorb vitamin C from. This kraut is raw, so it contains the live cultures and enzymes that pasteurized kraut from the store does not.
- 1 head cabbage, green or purple
- 2 tablespoons sea salt, course is fine (find here)
- 2 quart sized large mouth mason jars
- Food processor or knife
- Cup or cylinder that fits inside the mason jar, to smash sauerkraut
- Remove and discard outer leaves of the cabbage, until you get to the clean unblemished leaves underneath.
- Cut cabbage in half and core. Shred cabbage in food processor using a ‘slicing’ disk or with a knife, creating thin strips of cabbage.
- Pack into jars, and add 1 tablespoon salt to each jar. Cover and shake to distribute the salt. Allow to sit out for an hour, until the cabbage wilts.
- Smash to release juices.
- Cover again, and allow to ferment on counter for 3 days before transferring to the fridge to store.
- Sauerkraut is ready to eat after the countertop fermentation.
Don’t you need whey or a starter culture?
No, the cabbage will have flora on it from the air, that will get trapped in the liquid. The salt and lack of oxygen under the liquid will prevent the bad bacteria from growing, but the good bacteria will thrive.
How do I know if it’s bad?
If you see mold on your sauerkraut, it’s bad. I’ve only had this happen if I was in and out of the same jar often (going in and out of the jar introduces new bacteria and the air needed for bad bacteria to take hold each time)
Why do you ferment it for 3 days? I’ve hard of people fermenting it for 30 days or even 6 months.
3 days is the minimum you want to ferment it, before that it’ll just be wilted cabbage. As you ferment it longer, more beneficial bacteria will grow and the cabbage will become softer. I fermented the kraut pictured up top for about a week.
How long does it keep in the fridge?
Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the fridge, as long as you aren’t in and out of the same jar often. When you take some from the jar multiple times a day, lots of new bacteria is introduced. For this reason, it’s best to transfer your kraut into jars that hold about 1 week’s worth. The closed jars that haven’t been opened after the initial fermentation will stay good. Always throw it out if you see mold or slime.
What do you do with it?
Use it as a tangy-salty condiment! Once soups have been cooled until they’re not too hot to eat, you can add a scoopful of your homemade sauerkraut. You can serve a couple tablespoons on top of a hotdog, or alongside any meat.
Sauerkraut is delicious with just about any savory dish.
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