My family has a tradition to always serve pork and sauerkraut on New Year Day. It’s thought to bring you good luck throughout the year if you can take the humble cabbage and transform it into something delicious and sophisticated like sauerkraut. Then you apply the saying “live high off the hog” and add some pork to that humble sauerkraut…you may hopefully have a lucky year….so says the tradition. Sauerkraut, with its crunchy sourness is really just salt, cabbage, and of course time. It’s one of the easiest fermented foods to make with no real special equipment needed and is very hands off once you salt the cabbage.
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Fermenting Time: 7 to 10 days, depending on how sour you like your sauerkraut
- 1 medium head cabbage, 3 pounds
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon, caraway (optional)
- 1 teaspoon juniper berry (optional)
Step by Step:
1. When fermenting, you are allowing good beneficial bacteria to pickle your ingredients. Those good bacteria need your help in succeeding in making your sauerkraut…sour. So, clean everything very well to remove any possible bad bacteria. Be sure to remove any soap residue as well. Make sure your hands are super clean!
Slice the Cabbage
2. Remove the outer leaves that look limp or wilted.
3. Cut the cabbage into quarters from top to bottom
4. Trim away the core of the cabbage and discard
5. Once the core is removed, you can thinly slice the cabbage to about ¼ inch thickness, and place the cabbage into a large bowl for salting
Salt the Cabbage
6. With the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle the salt over top of the cabbage
7. Then really get in there! Begin working the salt into the cabbage with your clean hands by massaging and squeezing the cabbage. Don’t be afraid to really bruise the cabbage.
8. The more you work the cabbage the more it will begin to release its water and it will mix with the salt to make a brine. This liquid is what will pickle your cabbage. Altogether this process may take 5 to 10 minutes.
Pack the cabbage into the Mason Jar or Crock
9. Grab handfuls of the cabbage and press the cabbage into the jar or crock with your fist
10. Pour the brine that was released from the cabbage over top of the salted cabbage
Weigh down the Cabbage
11. Using a smaller jar, place clean marbles, rocks or anything heavy inside the smaller jar
12. Place the weighted smaller jar inside the larger salted cabbage jar and give it a gentle snug press against the salted cabbage. Be sure the brine comes above the cabbage in the larger jar.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: When doing fermented food such as sauerkraut; the brine needs to cover the ingredients completely or mold will develop, and you will have to toss it and start over
13. Cover the Jar with a tea towel or cheese cloth and fasten it down with a rubber band
14. Leave the cabbage to sit in the jar for 24 hours at room temperature or about 65 degrees to 75 degrees away from sunlight
Check brine level
15. After about 24 hours of the cabbage sitting in the brine, it’s important to check to see if the brine as risen above the cabbage. If it hasn’t, just whisk together 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water until dissolved and pour it over the salted cabbage
16. Every day or so, for about 7 to 10 days, check the sauerkraut and see if it’s the right sourness for yourself. I like a full 10 days for my sauerkraut. However, I do take a taste at 3 days to check the progress
Enjoy the sauerkraut or store the sauerkraut
17. You can go ahead and enjoy the sauerkraut once it is fermented with things like pork chops, bratwurst, hot dogs.
18. Or simply put a lid on it and it will hold in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.