Jun 03, 2015

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Did you know that eating fermented veggies is one of the best (and easiest) ways to get some awesome probiotics into your gut? If you’ve purchased “live” sauerkraut in the health food store, you know how expensive it is. Really expensive! If you find sauerkraut on the grocery shelf (not refrigerated), it’s been heated and, sorry, it therefore does not contain those lovely organisms. I have been making my own friendly kraut for over a year now so I thought it was time to share the love…

The first thing you will need is the right tools! Having the proper equipment makes the job oh so much easier. There’s a really great distributor called Primal Kitchen that sells sauerkraut (fermenting) starter kits. That link will take you to my Amazon store where I make a tiny commission. But you can also search for it yourself on their website, Primal Kitchen, if you’re interested in purchasing additional products or other items. They have wonderful recipes there, too!

When I first started making fermented foods, I was a little scared that things wouldn’t turn out so well. I was concerned about “things” growing in there that weren’t friendly. Well, with these tools and a little courage, you will have the perfect sauerkraut, pickles, or any other vegetable that you like, infused with probiotic goodness. Happy bellies!!!

Here is the step-by-step, but if you’re going to get a starter kit, you will find the same recipe and directions in the kit for this easy sauerkraut:

  1. Weigh out 1 pound 4 ounces of cabbage.
  2. Slice it as thinly as you can. This will help to speed the fermentation process. You also want the slices to be as uniform as possible in size.
  3. Place the shredded cabbage into a plastic or glass bowl (not metal).
  4. Add 1/4 cup of pure water and sprinkle in a scant tablespoon of sea salt. You can’t get away with not using salt, as far as I know, because it is the salt which prevents any bad bacteria from growing. However, you sure don’t need to use as much as what I’ve experienced with store-bought kraut. This salt level is much lower than what is commercially produced.
  5. Stir the kraut around so as to coat it as evenly as possible with the salt and water.
  6. Cover loosely with some plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for a few hours, stirring occasionally. You will notice that the cabbage will start to wilt.
  7. Transfer the cabbage and its liquid to a clean, one-quart, large mouth mason jar.
  8. Press the cabbage down tightly (I just use my fist, making sure my hands are very clean), pressing out as much air as possible.
  9. Place a weight on the top (in the kit you will get a glass weight, which is the best and is specifically designed to fit the jar—I still don’t have one, so I use a small dish, which fits perfectly and then I put a clean rock on top… I know I’m crazy but it works!).
  10. Assemble the “Kraut Kap” per the company’s directions and screw the lid on tightly. This cap is GREAT. I have made kraut before without it and had a few failures. The cap is designed to let some air out as the food ferments, but not let air in which can spoil your batch.
  11. Place the jar in a dark corner or in a cupboard.
  12. Wait. Depending on the ambient temperature in your house, the fermentation process can take up to 30 days. You can certainly open the lid and take a taste every now and then to check for sourness. I like mine to get pretty sour and limp so 30 days is minimum for me. 
As your kraut “cooks” you may see that some of the cabbage on top has discolored. That’s okay and won’t hurt the final product. Just discard the top parts if it looks funky. The true test is the taste. If it doesn’t taste right, don’t take any chances. Discard and start again.

There are many helpful sites online that talk all about fermentation and its many health benefits. I urge you to do your own research and find recipes that speak to you. If you’re just starting out, a quart jar of sauerkraut is really the easiest thing to begin with.

There is a fabulous book called Cultured Food for Life by Donna Schwenk, which I recommend for a thorough understanding and education on the subject of fermenting foods. Her recipes are not all vegan but the information in the book is excellent.

Healthy trails, and happy fermenting!

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