Sauerkraut Basics

With only two ingredients, sauerkraut becomes magically delicious in only 10 days with this basic recipe using a canning jar fermentor.

Look for dense, heavy heads. If the cabbage looks light with air pockets [see photo], it will not make good kraut.

cabbageWeigh the cabbage at the market, be sure you have at least 2-1/4 pounds (1 kg) per quart (l). We will create brine by salting and massaging the shredded cabbage.

Use green or red cabbage. Red will produce a brilliant fuchsia color — or a mixture will create pink!

INGREDIENTS: One Quart [Easily Doubled]

cabbage, head, 2-1/4 LBS (1 kg), finely sliced or shredded

sea salt, 1 TBS, ground or fine salt

caraway seeds, 1/2 tsp (optional) 

DIRECTIONS: For 1 quart [easily doubled]

  1. Reserve two of the outer tough leaves and the cabbage core. Halve the cabbage through the poles. Slice cabbage into very thin strands, or process using a medium shredding disc in a food processor, or a box grater. Shredding produces the same flavor; but a slaw-style texture. I personally like to use a mandoline slicer for uniformly thin strands, or the food processor makes a lightening fast batch.
  2. Place the prepared cabbage in a large bowl and mix with salt. Begin to lift and squeeze, and massage to work out the moisture. This will take a few moments. You can rest between massages until you can lift the cabbage and it drips brine into the bowl.
  3. cabbage_leavesTake the reserved leaves and lay a wide mouth lid down onto a leaf directly across the main rib of the leaf. Use a paring knife and cut out a circle. Then slice it in half across the rib. Repeat with a second leaf.
  4. Cabbage Leaves and Core InstalledTrim the cabbage core to about an inch tall.
  5. Pack a clean one quart canning jar with the cabbage along with the collected juice. After each load, pack it down into the jar. When you get to the shoulder of the jar lay the four cabbage leaf sections on top to cover the strands. Center the cabbage core on top. Once the lid is installed the cabbage strands and part of the cabbage core should remain beneath the brine during the ensuing fermentation.
  6. If you have a jar top fermentor like the Perfect Pickler®, place the cup on top of the core and lock down the lid, then complete installing the kit.
  7. Store the jar out of direct sunlight and in a temperature range of 66 to 74 degrees for 6 to 10 days. When sour to your liking, remove kit and secure jar with two-piece metal lid and store in the fridge.

VARIATIONS: It’s good to have this basic batch in the fridge, but consider all the possibilities. I prefer to make basic batch recipes and then take some of this base and adjust with herbs, spices, and grated apple. Explore!

Apple-Ginger Kraut – To salted cabbage add: 1 peeled, grated apple, squeezed dry, juice excluded. Add 1 TBS grated ginger and 1/4 tsp allspice powder. (If organic, skip peeling apple). Toss well.

Pepper-Garlic Kraut – To salted cabbage add: 1 tsp fresh ground pepper, 2 TBS minced garlic.

Euro-Kimchi – To salted cabbage add: 1 TBS chopped garlic, 2 tsp grated gingerroot, 2 + TBS Korean chile flakes, 2 cups grated daikon radish, 1 cup minced scallions

© 2017, Bill Hettig.

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