One of my goals for 2013 was to start making more fermented food items, like sauerkraut. I knew they were so good for us, but fermented food was an enigma to me. It was time for me to just jump in there and figure out how to do this thing.
If you start looking around for instructions on how to make sauerkraut, you'll find plenty. It overwhelmed me really. But then, I'm easily overwhelmed. This person says to do it this way, this person says to do it that way. Some people say it takes a few days to ferment...some say it takes months! This person says you can put your sauerkraut in this container, and this person says you have to have this special (and very expensive) fermenting crock! Aye-yi-yi!
So, it took me a while to get my system down...but I finally did.
And you know what? It is really. so. easy. Not much hands-on time at all.
And talk about cheap. A head of cabbage doesn't cost much at our store. Cabbage is good for us even raw - it is known as the "poor man's medicine chest" - but once it is transformed into sauerkraut...stand back!
One head cabbage
1 tbsp Real salt
Water (filtered would be best)
Start with the cabbage. Tear off the outer few layers of harder cabbage leaves...but save them (I'll tell you what to do with those below.) (I like to do more than head of cabbage at a time...because, well, we go through alot of sauerkraut here.)
I cut the head in half and then cut out the hard stem area, like so:
And then, just go to town cutting the cabbage into strips and then into smaller pieces...or whatever size you'd like your sauerkraut pieces to end up when you're eating them. A food processor would be handy at this point, but I've never owned one, and manual labor works just fine here:
For each head of cabbage you cut up, sprinkle 1 tbsp of salt into it and give it a good stir.
So now I'm a slacker and just let the salt do its work on the cabbage leaves. Go about your (busy) life and just leave the cabbage there for at least an hour (I've left it for two or three when I got busy with other stuff). Just give it a good stir every thirty minutes or so.
After a time or two of stirring and waiting...you'll see that the salt has caused the leaves to "release their juices". Good.
Now, stuff the cabbage into a jar. Pack it as tight as you can. Pour all the juice and salt that is left in the bowl into the jar also. Then fill the jar with water, so that it is above the level of the leaves.
The hard, outer leaves we set aside earlier? Shove them in there tight also...to keep the tinier pieces of cabbage submerged below the water.
You can see a peek of my big cabbage leaf at the top of this jar below. You can also see (at the bottom of the jar) that my cabbage is floating. That is ok, I just do the best I can to keep it all submerged below the water line....as fermentation is an anaerobic process (meaning: "without oxygen").
|You can use whatever size jars you prefer. Quart works good, but I like to use bigger and get all my kraut into one. I bought this big 'ol 80 oz. pickle jar with the express intent of repurposing it for kraut making!|
Now, just let it sit there for a few days and do its fermenting magic thing.
I usually wait at least five days to get into a jar of sauerkraut. Throw away the hard leaves, dig into the probiotic goodness, and then store the jar in the fridge.
I didn't think I liked sauerkraut. Turns out I just didn't like commercially-made (non-fermented) sauerkraut. But this stuff? Yummy!
Have you ever made sauerkraut? Or any other fermented food items?
I've shared this post at Thank Your Body Thursday on Thank Your Body, Tasty Traditions at Cultured Palate, and Natural Family Friday on Natural Family Today.