Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fibre and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Sauerkraut contains enzymes that aid in digestion, by adding good bacteria that helps to fight free radicals, and helps the body absorb more nutrients. Sauerkraut is an easy entry into the world of fermenting. It’s easy to make, does not requires special equipment, and the results is a probiotic rich food. The cabbage slowly ferments by a method called lacto-fermentation, the same process that creates kimchi and traditional dill pickles. There is beneficial bacteria present on the surface of the cabbage ( on all fruits and vegetables). Lactobacillusis is one of those bacteria, best known as the bacteria found in yogurt.
Ingredients: Cabbage. Salt. Weights.1 gallon Jar.
1.Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage to as thin as possible .
2. Salt the cabbage. Using a scale, weigh the bowl, reset to zero, and then add the cabbage. Whatever the weight of the cabbage is, multiply that by 2.5% (.025). This is going to be your salt content. Then sprinkle with the salt (kosher, sea salt, or mountain salt. If the salt isn’t free of iodine and anti-caking agents, it will inhibit fermentation). Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Leave at least 5 hours, but overnight is best. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy.
3. For sauerkraut, you do not need to drain the cabbage.
4. Pack the cabbage into the jar. Pack the sauerkraut into a 1-gallon jar. Press down on the cabbage until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top. If you have fermenting weights, use those to keep the vegetables under their liquid. Seal the jar.
When submerged in a brine, the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid; this is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. In the first stage, the cabbage is salted and releases a salty brine that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria will convert sugars into lactic acid, and preserve the vegetables. 5. Let it ferment-but not explode. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature (60 degrees is perfect), out of direct sunlight, for 5-10 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid- the best way to avoid a disaster is to gas the jar (just open it so the CO2 can escape, and close it again) 6. Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the sauerkraut once a day, opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the sauerkraut tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it's best after another week or two. Storage: Sauerkraut can be refrigerated for up to a few months. Use clean utensils each time to extract the kimchi from the jar.
It is possible you might find mold growing on the surface of the sauerkraut--this is not abnormal. Mold typically forms only when the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or if it’s too hot in your kitchen. The sauerkraut is still fine (it’s still preserved by the lactic acid) — you can scoop off the mold and proceed with fermentation. This said, it’s still important to use your best judgement when fermenting. If something smells or tastes moldy or unappetizing, trust your senses and toss the batch. Want to learn more? Check out these links: