Making homemade sauerkraut is an easy way to provide yourself and your family with a delicious, gut healthy treat. All you need is cabbage and salt, and you are ready to ferment!
I was first introduced to making sauerkraut one especially hot summer when I was a kid. My dad had planted a surplus of cabbage so my mom got experimental and decided to put together a batch of sauerkraut. It was a fun experiment to watch the cabbage change and to listen to it crack and pop with life, but I wasn’t especially fond of its taste. Now that my palette has developed a bit, I enjoy nothing more than eating a side of sauerkraut as an easy and delicious addition to any meal. Read on to learn more about why you should be eating fermented food AND how you can ferment cabbage at home.
WHY EAT FERMENTED FOODS
Historically, fermentation was used as a method of preservation. It turns out that including fermented foods in your diet can help improve your health. Namely, fermented foods support your gut microbiome by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. In fact, gut health affects your whole body. Food is ultimately broken down in the gut and then nutrients are dispersed throughout the body BUT without a healthy gut, your body has a hard time dispersing those nutrients. So, if you want your body to take advantage of those healthy nutrients you are putting into your body then make sure to take care of your gut.
THINGS YOU NEED
HOW TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT
The concept is really easy. Shred your lettuce, add salt, and let time do the bulk of the work. But, things can sometimes go wrong if you don’t do it right.
So, how do you make sauerkraut?
First, shred up your cabbage reserving a couple of the outer leaves. We will be using these later. You can cut up your cabbage with a knife, but I prefer to complete this step with my food processor to save time. You can also use a cheese grater! I like to keep my pieces larger if I’m going to be cooking it BUT if we are going to eat it raw I like small pieces. Once all your cabbage is shredded into thin pieces put it all into a large bowl.
The next step is to get a brine going. In theory, once salt is added your cabbage will create its own brine. A lot of people weight their cabbage to determine how much salt to use. I play it safe and go ahead and add 5 tablespoons per cabbage. Keep in mind, if you try the cabbage right after salting it, it is going to taste mighty salty. THAT IS OKAY. It should be salty and once it ferments that saltiness will go away.
Add your salt and then massage the cabbage with your hands. This might take some time. It usually takes me about five minutes but the batch I made most recently took closer to 10. As you massage the cabbage it should release a liquid. This liquid and the salt make a brine that keeps your cabbage safe from any harmful bacteria. This is why I add a good bit of salt. If you don’t add enough, your kraut may go bad.
Once your cabbage has released a good amount of water go ahead and pack it into a mason jar. Make sure to add the brine. In fact, your brine should be covering the cabbage completely. If it doesn’t, give it a couple of hours. During this time the cabbage will more than likely release more liquid. If your brine doesn’t cover your cabbage, go ahead and mix 1 cup of water with 3 tbsp of salt and add just enough to cover the cabbage. Once your cabbage is covered with brine take the outer leaves that you put aside and place it on top of the cabbage. This step is to encourage the sauerkraut to stay submerged under the brine. At this point, I like to add a fermentation weight for some extra reassurance.
Next, go ahead and put your ear to the opening of your mason jar. Do you hear that? Your cabbage is already popping with life.
Lightly screw on a lid or add some cheese cloth to the top of your mason jar and WAIT. Sauerkraut takes anywhere from 5 days to 4 weeks to ferment. It all depends on how sour your like it.
Once it is done, go ahead and store it in the fridge. Once you store it, the fermentation process will slow way down and you won’t have to worry about it going too sour.
PIN FOR LATER
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SAUERKRAUT
- When you originally start fermenting your cabbage it is going to be green. Once it sits for a couple of days it will start turning yellow. THIS IS NORMAL!
- Make sure that brine is covering your cabbage! No really. If you don’t, your cabbage may go bad and no one likes rotten cabbage.