Sauerkraut is one of those things Americans typically associate with a single country (Germany), but which really exists all over Europe (Zuurkool in the Netherlands, Rauginti Kopūstai in Lithuania). Homemade fermented sauerkraut is not only quite healthy for you (lots of beneficial bacteria grow in there that aid digestion and are generally good for you), but it tastes so much better than the pickled-in-vinegar stuff you often find at the store. Naturally sour due to acid produced by the bacteria eating the sugar in the cabbage, with a bit of that warm, yeasty after-taste you sometimes get from a good beer, and a nice, firm crunch.
This recipe will take you maybe an hour or so, but most of that time is just chopping cabbage. There is almost no simpler recipe than this one. Give it a try!
Recipe to fill a 5 liter jug:
- 2 heads of cabbage
- About 9 tsp finely ground sea salt
- Water (optional)
- Chop each cabbage in half and then in half again (so, in quarters)
- Remove the core from each quarter
- Slice each quarter as thinly as possible
- In a large mixing bowl, mix about 3 tsp salt per head of cabbage (you can do it 1/4 or 1/2 cabbage at a time, depending on what size bowl you have) with the shredded cabbage.
- Use your hands to make sure the salt is rubbed in well. Rub it into the cabbage until it is mostly dissolved and the cabbage is becoming moist.
- After you get the salt mixed in, transfer the cabbage to the jar, and press it down firmly all around, so that the cabbage is well-compacted.
- Once you’ve gotten all the cabbage in the jar, and it is all well pressed down, you should start to see brine building up in the bottom of the jar. This is from the natural process of the salt leeching water from the cabbage.
- If after a few hours there is not enough liquid to cover all/most of the cabbage, you can add some brine just until the cabbage is covered (You can make a brine with the ratio of 1 cup water to 2 tsp sea salt).
- Let the sauerkraut sit in the jar at room temperature for approximately 2 weeks.
- Open the jar and press down the cabbage once or twice per day, as it will release liquid and therefore lose volume. Be careful as you open the lid, as gas will build up in the jar. Release it slowly when you open it to avoid being showered in brine.
- After about two weeks (the longer it goes, the more soft and sour it will be), open the jar, stick a fork in and try it. Mmmmm.
- Let it sit in the fridge for a day or two for the flavors to mellow out a bit, and it will keep in the fridge for several months.