My love for sauerkraut runs deep. Growing up, making sauerkraut was an event for our family. Each fall all my aunts, uncles, and cousins would get together at grandma’s house out in the country. The adults would take turns shredding the cabbage by hand until it filled an old bathtub. Then we kids would stomp it down with our little feet covered in plastic bags until the juices from the cabbage surged to the surface. It was an autumnal ritual and it was fun. Real quality time. I loved the shredding, the salting, and stomping. And of course, the fermentation process! Then, we canned it and enjoyed it all winter long.
Today I enjoy making my own sauerkraut. It’s in much smaller quantities, I don’t use the tub but hey… it’s still fun. Some say that making sauerkraut “is a hassle” and that they don’t want to be bothered. I say that the whole process is super easy and that anyone can master it. Plus it doesn’t require any special skills or ingredients and it tastes so much BETTER than the stuff you find in a jar at your local grocery store.
FERMENTED FOODS AND IT’S BENEFITS
Culturing or fermenting foods (such as cabbage) is a way of quickly preserving them and at the same time, encouraging the growth of good bacteria (probiotics), which have numerous health benefits. The health benefits of sauerkraut can make a massive difference in the way you digest, the way you feel, and the overall condition of your body. If you are new to this whole idea or fermenting and are a bit intimidated… I hope this recipe will help you get over the initial hurdle.
CONTAINERS FOR SAUERKRAUT
- Crocks: Traditionally sauerkraut was made in large crocks with a weight to keep the cabbage below the brine. This is a great choice for anyone who already has some experience making kraut and would like to make a LARGE batch.
- Mason jars with weight: Probably the easiest way to make a small batch of sauerkraut is to pack it into a mason jar and keep the vegetables below the brine with a weight.
- Mason jars with an Airlock: This is a great way to make a large batch of sauerkraut with very little risk of mold or mushy vegetables. Bonus is that when fermentation is complete, you don’t need to disturb the ferment, just put a regular mason jar lid on.
Homemade European Sauerkraut with Caraway
Fermenting your own sauerkraut is one of the most fun cooking projects, and it's surprisingly easy to do. All you need is some basic equipment, and you can get fermenting right away, with the help of salt and friendly, naturally occurring lactobacillus bacteria. So, take a deep breath and give this recipe a try.
- 1 large head green cabbage about 4 pounds; 1.8kg, trimmed, cored, and shredded, outer leaves reserved
- 1 Granny Smith apple—peeled cored and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 2 Tbsp Celtic sea salt see NOTES
- 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
- Peel off and discard any wrinkly dry or damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Reserve one healthy, pliable leaf for later cut the cabbage into quarters right through the core. Carefully cut out and discard the tough inner core. Shred the cabbage. You can use a mandolin, knife or food processor. We prefer using a food processor fitted with the shredding blade.
- Put the shredded cabbage into a large bowl. Sprinkle salt and caraway over the cabbage and massage it with your hands until liquid starts to release. Set it aside.
- While the cabbage is marinating, peel and slice the apple. Add the sliced apple to the bowl with the cabbage. Use your hands to work the apple through the cabbage evenly, then once again massage the cabbage until it releases plenty of liquid when squeezed in your hands.
- Transfer the cabbage to a wide mouth quart-sized Mason jar or Fermentation Crock, packing it down tightly with each handful added to the jar. When the cabbage is tightly packed down, take the cabbage leaf you saved earlier and gently fold it until it is about the same width and proportion as the jar. Place the leaf into the jar, on top of the packed cabbage and make sure it covers it completely.
- Press the cabbage leaf down firmly, then pour enough brine from the mixing bowl to cover all of the cabbage and submerge it in the liquid. The cabbage must be below the water (brine) level, away from oxygen. Be sure to leave an inch of space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Doing this allows for expansion. Do not leave too much room at the top of the jar as too much oxygen could cause your kraut to go bad.
- Allow the kraut to ferment in a cool, dark place for at least three days and up to 3 weeks, depending on the desired degree of sourness. Once the kraut has fermented to your liking, seal the jar and transfer it to the refrigerator. Fermenting will continue to take place in the fridge, but this will be very, very slow. Refrigerate in sealed containers for up to 6 months Flavors can change over time.
If you like your sauerkraut quite sour, you might want to allow longer fermentation - anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, depending on your preference. Throw out the sauerkraut if it becomes discoloured, slimy, or has become mouldy.
Sauerkraut makes a perfect addition to your sandwiches, salads, wraps, bowls, and more! We enjoy adding sauerkraut to dishes like Kitchari or Tahini Kale Protein Bowl. However, feel free to eat it straight from the jar!
Dedicated to your health & wellbeing,