How to Make Fresh Sauerkraut
Have you ever had fresh sauerkraut? No? It tastes so different from store bought and is so easy that you will wonder why you never tried it before now. You only need a 2 quart glass Mason jar, boiling water, 2 teaspoons of non-iodized salt per pound of cabbage, and a medium sized cabbage . Ready to get started?
First, remove any old or tough leaves from your head of cabbage. You want to only use the tender inner leaves.
Now cut the cabbage in quarters so it’s a manageable size. Remove the core. Cut the remaining cabbage into small, thin pieces, about 1/8th of an inch in width. You can use a food processor to make this quicker. Just make sure not to shred it like cole slaw or make it too fat. Fat chunks will take longer to ferment.
Rinse and drain well.
Add just enough boiling water (without chlorine or fluoride) to salt to dissolve it. Toss to evenly coat the cabbage, then tightly pack it into the Mason jar.
The salt will draw water from the cabbage and create a brine. If there isn’t enough brine to cover all the leaves in a few hours, add water so all the cabbage is covered by brine. Place something over the top to weigh the leaves down, yet allow for the fermentation bubbles to escape. I use a 5 oz glass measuring cup. It fits perfectly into the top of the Mason jar. If it’s not heavy enough to sit firmly, add water to add weight. You can also buy fermentation lids that fit tight over the jar but allow gases to escape.
Now just leave it out on the counter away from heat and light and wait for the fermentation to be complete. It should take three to fourteen days. The length of time it takes varies depending upon room temperature, your taste preference, and the amount of salt. Too much salt slows or even halts fermentation. Too little and you may grow mold. If any cabbage sticks above the brine, you may also find mold so keep an eye on the things. If you do get mold, throw that part away and make sure all remaining leaves are below the brine.
Once it’s “done”, cap it and store it in the refrigerator.
Why Fresh Sauerkraut?
- It’s cheap eats!
- Homemade sauerkraut tastes a lot better than store bought sauerkraut and can be tweaked to fit your taste.
- It’s loaded with nutrients!
- Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains probiotics which are great for healthy digestion. (Store bought sauerkraut is often pasteurized). One study found 28 different types of healthy bacteria in homemade sauerkraut! That’s far more than any supplement.
- It’s high in fiber which may help you to lose weigh and have a healthier colon.
- It’s an immune booster.
Once you get the hang of basic sauerkraut, you may want to get fancy and add some different things for variety. Here are some suggestions:
- root vegetables like carrots, radishes, or beets
- fruits like apples or pears
- herbs like garlic, fennel, dill, ginger, or caraway seeds
- specialty salts like smoked sea salt, black salt, or red salt
One last tip. Since most of us make homemade sauerkraut for the probiotics, either eat it cold and raw or just barely warm it to make sure the good bacteria stay alive.