Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Make "Real" Sauerkraut

 Fresh, Homemade Sauerkraut Can't be Beat!

Dirk Ingo Franke

If you've never had fresh, homemade sauerkraut, than you're missing out on a crunchy, tasty treat! Homemade sauerkraut is easy to make and takes about two weeks to naturally ferment - this means you don't need to add vinegar- which makes it "real" sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Head of Cabbage; Firm, fresh heads are the best to use
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Sea Salt

Here's What You'll Need

  1. Food Processor; You can always shred the cabbage by hand using a knife
  2. Large Bowl or Sanitized Bucket (1-5 Gallons depending on how much sauerkraut you make)
  3. Cutting Board
  4. Sharp Knife
  5. Measuring Spoons
  6. Dinner Plate
  7. Potato Masher (Optional)
  8. Plastic Gallon Jug or Mason Jar filled with tap water
  9. Clean Kitchen Towel

How to Make Sauerkraut

Step 1: Remove outer leaves of the cabbage - especially those that are bruised or damaged.

Step 2: Quarter the cabbage by cutting it in half and cutting each half in half; remove the core.
- If using a food processor to shred your cabbage, cut each quarter in half as well.

Step 3: Feed each piece of cabbage into the food processor - make sure you use the blade for shredding. If using a knife, thinly shred each quarter of cabbage.

Step 4: Place half of the cabbage into your bowl or bucket, sprinkle with half a tablespoon of crushed sea salt; mix and squeeze cabbage for about 2-3 minutes working the water out. (This is where the potato masher comes in but I found it easier to use my hands.) The salt will help to draw the water out of the cabbage which is needed for the brine.

Step 5: Add remaining half of cabbage to bowl or bucket and sprinkle with remaining half a tablespoon of salt - repeat the squeezing and mixing process.

Step 6: Press the cabbage mixture into the bottom of your bowl using your hands or the masher. At this point, there should be enough liquid in the bowl to cover the cabbage. To test, place the dinner plate over the cabbage and lightly press down. If liquid seeps over the rim of the plate, then you are all set. (You can always add some water, a little at a time, if need be to cover the rim of the plate.

Step 7: Place the dinner plate face-down on top of the cabbage. Place the gallon jug on top of the plate, making sure liquid seeps over the rim. Rinse a clean kitchen towel under hot water, squeeze out access water, and cover the bowl with the towel.

Notes of Interest

  • The cabbage should always be submerged in liquid. As the fermenting process begins and continues over a 2 week period, more and more liquid will be drawn from the cabbage.
  • Check your cabbage every day. A white filmy muck may form on the top of the cabbage - this is normal! Simply skim the white muck off the cabbage and cover with a clean dinner plate. Don't forget to place the gallon jug on the plate and cover with a clean, warm towel.
  • Go ahead and taste the sauerkraut after 3 or 4 days - it should be turning sour by then. Check your sauerkraut each day and skim away the muck for 2 weeks or until the sauerkraut has the taste you prefer.

How to Save Your Sauerkraut for Later Use

  • If you're not going to be eating your sauerkraut right away after the fermenting process is finished, go ahead and can or freeze your homemade sauerkraut. 
  • I find it easier to freeze; I simply portion the sauerkraut into freezer bags, measuring 2 cups at a time ensuring there is an equal amount of brine in each bag. Then I label, date, and freeze. ( I say 2 cups because I had an abundance of cabbage in the garden this year and fermented 5 heads of cabbage at one time).
  • To can, bring the brine and sauerkraut to a boil in a large sauce pan. Fill mason jars with sauerkraut and top with brine leaving 1/8" of head space. Top with a fresh lid making sure the lids are tightly sealed.

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