I have never liked Sauerkraut.
I’m sorry, but it’s nasty. Or at least the commercial stuff is; you know, those bags of limp cabbage in sickly green liquid you can often find in the pork section of the meat department around St. Patrick’s Day and New Years (at least here in Ohio you can). It’s salty and vinegary and has an awful, slimy texture and I’ve NEVER been able to develop a liking for it.
So when we began fermenting we started with kimchi, which we both happen to love. I then moved on to fruit chutneys – cranberry-orange is my favorite so far, although I did a peach chutney last summer that was really, really good – but I still resisted making sauerkraut. I just couldn’t believe that I’d like it.
But eventually Beloved and my Young Diabetic Friend (who adores sauerkraut, even the commercial stuff) talked me into making some.
To say that I was astounded at how good it was is a bit of an understatement. It is crisp and tangy and livley; nothing at all like the crap you buy at the store.
And I was hooked.
I tend to make ferments a quart at a time because the last time I made multiple batches I had to toss some – despite claims that you can eat kimchi months and even years after it’s been fermented, I’m a bit of a worry-wart and tend to err on the side of caution; as much as I believe in the numerous health benefits of fermented foods, I am not too crazy about the idea of contracting botulism in the process of obtaining all those lovely probiotics. So this recipe makes just a quart – a good amount, especially if this is your first foray into homemade sauerkraut.
It’s quite simple, too; it’s just thinly sliced cabbage, kosher sea salt (I use RealSalt), caraway seed and filtered water. You can add whey if you want, but I’ve not had any problems with it fermenting without it – it’s usually bubbling away in 3 days, although it’s taken as long as 5. After that, I stick it in the fridge and we eat a little bit every day (or try to, anyway). It is absolutely spectacular on Applegate Farms Grassfed Beef Hot Dogs with a little mustard. So much so that it’s become my favorite “quickie lunch” lately.
The size of the cabbage I use are generally slightly larger than a softball. It will seem like a lot of cabbage for a single quart jar once it’s been sliced or shredded, but once you begin to pound it down into the jar, it does all fit. I top the kraut with extra-virgin olive oil to keep it submerged under the liquid while it’s fermenting; it can be poured off – or just stirred in, which doesn’t hurt the flavor or texture at all, once you begin eating the ferment.
Note: Do not use tap water when making ferments; the chemicals, which aren’t good for you in the first place, can hinder – even prevent – the fermentation process.
- 1 small cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- filtered water
- Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
- Layer the cabbage into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the cabbage begins to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the caraway seed.
- Repeat layering the cabbage, salt and caraway, pounding in between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add filtered water to cover the cabbage if necessary. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
- Top off the sauerkraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged. Cap tightly and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the sauerkraut begins to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
- Eat within 3 months.
- Nutrition (per serving): 12 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 713.5mg sodium, 79.6mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 1.4g sugar, <1g protein