When I was little I loved sauerkraut, especially piled high on a hot dog.
Actually just about anything that has been pickled or preserved with salt or vinegar I’m there.
But now, instead of buying the jar of pale lifeless looking sauerkraut from the store, I make my own. And although I no longer eat it piled high on a hot dog, this sauerkraut is delicious enough to be eaten alone, as a side with deviled eggs and crackers, or with your favorite sausage for all you meat lovers out there.
Naturally fermented foods haven’t been heated or cooked in the preserving process which means it still has all of its enzymes, and combined with the fermentation process, which creates probiotics, you have a powerhouse of natural gut loving bacteria. Our gut is super important to our overall health. It is where our immune is formed, where nutrients are absorbed, it is one avenue for our body to get rid of toxins, and where waste is filtered out and “disposed” of. Happy gut = healthy life. So treat it good.
How to Make Fermented Sauerkraut
You Will Need:
1 – 2 medium heads of cabbage (I used 1 large one.)
2 tablespoons of sea salt (using sea salt, preferably the most natural you can find, is very important. Regular table salt or pickling salt has too many harsh additives and can kill off the very bacteria you want growing.)
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds or caraway seeds (optional)
Large Mason Jar (I’ve used 1 quart and 2 quart sized. It really depends on how much cabbage you have)
Cut up your cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Add the salt and fennel seeds or caraway seeds (if using).
With a wooden spoon massage, and stomp the cabbage until the juices are released. This can take anywhere from 10 – 15 minutes. You want to see a bit of juice starting to form in the bottom of your bowl, so don’t be afraid to get in there and beat that cabbage. (I have found this extra helpful when I’m frustrated or stressed over something. New life rule: when stressed or angry make sauerkraut!)
Pack a little bit of the cabbage into a large mason jar, and press your cabbage down with the wooden spoon. Continue packing and pressing down until all the cabbage is in the jar (or two – depending on how big your cabbage was to start with), and the juice covers the cabbage. You want that cabbage packed in there really tight, and you want it to be under the brine when you’re done packing it all in there. Leave about an inch of head space for expansion.
Cover with the lid. You will need to burp your sauerkraut for the next 3 days. Just unscrew the lid once or twice a day and allow the gases to escape. (Snap lids are really good for this. If the lid feels stiff when you press on it and doesn’t snap easily, then it is time to burp your jar.) After the third day it should slow down and your jar won’t need to be burped. (You could also cover your jar with triple folded cheesecloth or a tea towel for the first 3 days to allow the burping process to happen on its own.)
After the sauerkraut has fermented to your desired taste (allow it to ferment for a minimum of 3 days), move it to a dark cool place such as a cold cellar, or fridge. We personally like ours fermented a little longer, about 2 weeks. The longer it sits the more intense the flavor will become and the more probiotics it will have, so you be your own judge.
- You want your cabbage to stay under the liquid at all times. When I burp it and notice a few pieces floating I’ll smoosh them back down and get the cabbage packed all tight again.
- There should not be any mold growth in your sauerkraut. If it has molded I’d toss the batch.
- Bubbles, a white film on top, and the sauerkraut turning a darker colour (mainly near the top) is all ok.
- Always make sure your equipment is clean and sterilized before starting. You are creating an environment for bacteria growth and we want good bacteria that causes fermentation and probiotics, not bad bacteria that breeds mold.
Now get out there and make some sauerkraut! Your body will thank you.