Sauerkraut – the star of the fermented foods!
One of the easiest fermented foods to do is Sauerkraut. If your wanting to get into fermented or cultured foods, starting out with sauerkraut is a great way to start. A successful ferment will help to build your confidence. Placing cabbage on your counter top it will never make into Sauerkraut, instead it will grow mold because mold spores are present on all vegetables. Manipulating the environmental conditions to encourage good bacterial growth. The submersion in brine protects from air and oxygen, promoting Lacto Acid bacteria which are also always on vegetables to develop. Cabbage is already high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. By fermenting cabbage you increase the health benefits! Lets get started….
Start with the freshest and best cabbage you can find. Preferably organic but that isn’t always an option and don’t let that deter you from starting your sauerkraut.
1 head of Cabbage, sliced thinly and into small pieces
1 cup of Himalayan Sea Salt (this is the kind I used)
Crock or Mason Jar – Cleaned and rinsed well
1- Cut bottom part of the cabbage and discard. Rinse Cabbage leaves well in cold water. Once you have the leaves cleaned and dried. Cut into small pieces. Some people like to use a mandolin, but I enjoy doing it by hand with a knife. Cut the pieces thin and into bite sized pieces. Layer cabbage in a mixing bowl, then salt making sure all the cabbage leaves have been well salted. Continue to layer cabbage and salt. Mix cabbage with clean hands or you can use a cabbage crusher or potato masher. I have a wooden pestle I use to push tomatoes through sieve when canning. It helps break down the cabbage and push the water out of the leaves. Let cabbage sit for about 10 mins.
2- Pack cabbage/salt tightly into your fermentation vessel. Depending on how much your making, you can use a quart glass jar or a gallon glass jar. There are also fermentation crocks. I use the inner crock from an old crock pot that stopped heating up. It is ceramic and doesn’t react to the fermentation process. If you are using a glass jar, you can quarter an onion and put on top of the cabbage to keep it weighed down. You want to keep the cabbage under the water. I use to use storage bags filled with water to weigh down the cabbage but have since invested into some weights that I use in making sauerkraut and kimchi.
3- Place your jar/crock in a cool place out of direct sunlight. It does have a smell to it after a couple days of strong cooked cabbage, it is a good sign. The fermentation process is working and breaking down the cabbage. After about 4 weeks it will be ready to use. I transfer the sauerkraut from the crock into smaller quart size jars and store in the refrigerator and give to family members. I love adding fresh sauerkraut to soups, sandwiches and salads.
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