Look at the color of this stuff…… it’s amazing!
I have been making a bit of Sauerkraut lately, and I have to say it is rather tasty and really quite simple to make.
There is a little science to it but nothing you can’t work out with trial, error and touch of bravery. Basically all living things, especially leafy and root vegetables are covered with a species of bacteria called Lactobacilli. Given the chance, these little organisms will eat up some of the starch and sugar in the vegetables and convert them to lactic acid. The lactic acid now present creates an environment where other bacteria that would spoil the food can not survive, so it is preserved. This process also produces enzymes which enhance our digestion and promote healthy gut flora.
This type of food preservation is really a bit of a lost art. Lost in favour of chemical and heat pasteurization, which may increase shelf life but kills off every beneficial living thing in the food at the same time.
This is my simple (and not to potent) sauerkraut method:
1) Finely shred as much cabbage is you want, being aware that it compacts down quite a lot and you can probably fit about 1/4 of a cabbage in a jam jar or less!
2) Put your shredded cabbage into a plastic or glass bowl, then sprinkle with salt. I use about 3/4 of teaspoon of salt per 1/4 cabbage. That’s a rough guide I know, but you’ll be fine.
3) Now rub, squish, and massage the daylights out of the cabbage until its all nice and juicy.
4) Pack the cabbage down tightly into a jar, use your fist and pack it down so that the juice covers the top of the cabbage. If there is not enough liquid to cover the cabbage, mix 3/4 tsp salt with 1 cup of water until dissolved and pour in enough to just cover. I have never need to add salt brine when using green cabbage, because it is quite juicy, but red cabbage is a little different. It is critical that the cabbage remains below the liquid so that the fermentation happens in an oxygen-less environment.
5) Now fold up a leaf of cabbage and place on top of it all and weight that down with something. If you have a big wide top jar you can sometimes fit a smaller glass jar inside it filled with water as a weight. I am using the pestle from my mortar and pestle this time.
6) Throw a tea towel over the whole lot and sit it in a warm-ish place for a few days. How long you leave it is up to you, I just go by taste. Taste it after about 3 days, if you like it, cover it and stick it in the fridge, otherwise be brave and let it go a bit longer for a stronger taste.
Now this is a super basic method using no culture/starter/whey or anything, basically just letting nature do its thing. There are heaps of other methods out there that involve other equipment, covering it, leaving it longer etc etc. This is just what I have found that works for me.
If you have made sauerkraut before or want to give it a go, let me know how you get on. 🙂 Also I will add some posts on ways to use sauerkraut soon too.