Kreative Kraut: The Easiest Ferment

red cabbage, carrots, caraway seeds

red cabbage, carrots, caraway seeds

Sauerkraut! It is, for me, such an acquired taste. This will be different than the heated sauerkraut you buy in stores - better, I think. Sauerkraut was my first ferment, and I remember holding my nose as I ate spoonfuls of it because I thought it was so gross. I just wanted the probiotics. Now, I crave the taste.

Sauerkraut is super easy and actually really fun to make. 

You'll need:

Cabbages (it really depends on the size, but since it keeps for so long, I'd get two) - you can get red or green. The red makes a pink sauerkraut

Sea salt

Nothing else! But you can add other veggies to it if you want. In the picture above, I added some caraway seeds for flavor.

So, you'll chop up the cabbage really finely (no need to get obsessive, just pretty small) and put it in a bowl. Save one or two of the big leaves from the outside. 

Pour sea salt over the cabbage. The general rule is about 1 tbsp for every 2 pounds of vegetables. 

This is the fun part! Massage the salt into the cabbage. Just put your hands in the bowl and squish it up and mix it around, for about 10-15 minutes. Sit on the floor if that's easier. You'll notice that the salt encourages the cabbage to release its juices (my mom always laughs out loud when I say that phrase.) Really, it will become more liquidy as you go. The cabbage creates its own brine!

When you're done, pack it all into a jar. You want to be able to fill the jar to the top - head space is not good. The cabbage needs to be submerged in the brine. You can accomplish this by taking one of the cabbage leaves from the beginning and pushing it down on top, then putting some sort of weight on it. You can use a rock (boil to sanitize it first), or a smaller jar, or anything along those lines. Cabbage that's exposed to the air can mold. 

When you have that set up, cover the jar. I like to use a paper towel with a rubber band around it, because that allows air flow while still keeping dust and bugs out. Then.. let it sit! You can put it in a dark space and just leave it there for a few weeks. Some people leave theirs for 6 weeks. Some for 3. I like to start tasting at around 2 weeks or so and see what I want to do from there. Generally speaking, the longer it sits, the more beneficial bacteria it'll have.

When it has a flavor you like, put it in the fridge to slow down fermentation. You can join this group on Facebook to get ideas or to ask any questions if you get stuck!