Once you start making your own sauerkraut you will never want to eat store bought ever again. It’s so easy to make you will be wondering why you’ve never made it before. It is delicious right out of the jar, in soups and stews, or over hot dogs or smoked sausage. Sauté with apples then spoon over pork. You can also make Reuben sandwiches with it.
It’s also good for you! It’s high in vitamins A and C, and in early history was given to sailors on long voyages to prevent scurvy. It contains antioxidants, and due to its fermentation process it acts as a probiotic for good gastrointestinal health.
What you will need:
- Big crock or glass container
- Pickling salt (non iodized – it kills the good bacteria)
- 2-3 Fresh heads of cabbage (about 5lbs) (reserve a few large outer leaves)
- Canning jars and lids (for when the kraut is finished)
First, wash your cabbage. Then wash the container you want to ferment your cabbage in with warm soapy water, rinse. Some people use large crocks. I like to use a gallon canning container with a lid that clamps down over the top.
Next, put about a gallon or so of water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
While the water is coming to a boil, cut cabbage in half. Cut out the tough/coarse stem. Chop into small pieces. Or, you can use a mandolin and shred it up nice and fine. This is my preferred method. Take some of the pickling salt and sprinkle over the cabbage. Squeeze to massage the salt into the cabbage. Add more salt as you toss and squeeze the cabbage. I may use around 2-3 tablespoons total of salt during this process. You will notice it starting to wilt and let off fluid. Don’t discard the fluid.
Pack the cabbage along with its fluid into container firmly. Keep pressing down and packing more as you go. Ladle out now boiling water into fermentation container leaving about a couple inches of space at the top. Press cabbage down more with a knife, and poke knife down into the sides of each jar to release any air pockets. Make sure the cabbage is completely covered but leave a bit of space at the top. Place the reserved large cabbage leaves over the top of the cabbage. Weight down with something to keep all the cabbage below the fluid. Some people use plates, or clean stones. Since I used a large canning jar I just place a ziplock bag over to top and inside, then pour enough water into it to make sure the cabbage stays below water level.
Place in your cupboard then allow the kraut to ferment for at least 2 months. Open it up and taste. If it is the desired flavor it’s done, if not cover and let it ferment some more. If it has “scum” on the top you can skim it off, but it’s not harmful. When done fermenting, put into smaller canning jars, then place in cool dark place, or in the refrigerator. If you’ve done everything right it will keep nicely for a year or two, maybe more. Always refrigerate jars of kraut that have been opened after fermenting has finished.
A twist on this recipe that is delicious is to add a 10 oz. bag of slivered or matchstick carrots, 3 medium sweet onions that have been put through the same mandolin as you sliced your cabbage up with. For this one gallon recipe I only had to use 2 large heads of cabbage since the carrots and onions were added. Here is what it looks like when it’s starting out. This is so good on and in so many things! I can’t wait to try another combination soon.