How to Make Sauerkraut
- Category: Fermented Foods
- Cuisine: German
- 1 head green cabbage*
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (I use this one)
- Clean glass jar (I usually use one average head of cabbage per quart-sized mason jar)
- For brine: 1 additional tablespoon of salt and 4 cups water
- Wash the cabbage and remove any wilted outer leaves.
- Quarter the cabbage, remove the core, and slice the cabbage into thin strips (I shoot for around 1/4″ wide). Try to make the strips as uniform as possible, but don’t feel like they have to be perfect.
- Place the strips in a large bowl, and sprinkle the sea salt over the top.
- Allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so, and then start mashing. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this– just use your hands, a mallet, or whatever blunt object you can find to mash/knead/twist/press/crush the cabbage. The goal is to start the juices flowing. (It helps if you can think of something that makes you mad while you do this–it’s better than therapy, really…)
- I mash/knead for about 8-10 minutes. Hopefully by the end of this process, you’ll have a lovely pool of salty cabbage juice sitting in the bottom of your bowl.
- Place a couple handfuls of cabbage into the jar, then thoroughly pack down with a wooden spoon. The goal is to eliminate as many air bubbles as possible.
- Repeat the packing and mashing until the jar is full– just make sure to leave about 2″ at the top.
- If you there is enough liquid flowing from your cabbage to cover it completely, congrats!
- If not, make a 2% brine solution to fill up the rest of the jar. (If you don’t completely submerse the cabbage in liquid, it’s susceptible to mold and other gunk).
- To Make a 2% Brine:
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon fine sea salt in 4 cups non-chlorinated water. If you don’t use all of the brine for this recipe, it will keep indefinitely in the fridge.
- Cover the exposed cabbage with brine, leaving 1″ of headspace at the top. If you are having troubles with the cabbage floating to the top, you can weigh it down with a glass weight, OR even wedge a piece of the cabbage core on top to hold it down. Any cabbage that is exposed will need to be thrown away, but you were going to toss the core anyway, so it’s no big loss.
- Affix a lid to the jar (fingertight only), and set aside in a room-temperature location, out of direct sunlight, for at least one week.
- You’ll probably want to place a small dish or tray under the jar, as they have the tendency to leak a bit and spill over. Also, removing the lid after a day or so to “burp” the jar and release any pent-up gasses is also a smart idea.
- Taste and smell your kraut after one week. If it’s tangy enough, move to the refrigerator for storage. If you like a bit more tang, simply allow to ferment for a bit longer.