Making Sauerkraut: Do Try This At Home!

Making sauerkraut, day one: nine pounds of salted red and green cabbage packed into a 5 liter glass jar (mixing red and green cabbages should yield a pretty pink kraut).

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Many of the foods I write about on this blog I’ve been making for years, even decades. On the other hand, one of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that it motivates me to tackle projects I’ve been meaning to do, but never seemed to have gotten around to, like making sauerkraut. I realize that sauerkraut (“sour cabbage” in German) is not universally loved, but it ought to be. Fresh, quality kraut is delicious–tangy, crunchy, slightly salty. It’s high in fiber, low in fat, shares the health-giving benefits of all the cruciferous family, and most importantly, contains the friendly probiotic bacteria which help keep our intestines happy. It’s downside would be that salt is an important ingredient, so people who need to be cautious with salt should probably eat sauerkraut only in small quantities, rinsing it first with water. Sauerkraut, like yogurt or miso, is a live food and needs to be eaten raw. Canned or pasteurized, it loses most of its flavor, texture and nutritional value.

In the photo above, we see the result of day one in my sauerkraut making project. I’ve chopped nine pounds of red and green cabbage, and I’ve mixed in six tablespoons of quality sea salt and packed it down with a big wooden spoon. Next step is to place a weight on top and cover it all with a clean cloth.  What will happen next is that the salt will draw water out of the cabbage thus creating a brine in which the cabbage ferments. In order to ferment healthily, the cabbage needs to be covered with brine, so if it isn’t covered by liquid after 24 hours, I will add enough salted water so that it is. After that, it’s mostly watchful waiting, checking every day to see that the cabbage is safely soaking in brine, and that everything is o.k. In two to four weeks, the sauerkraut will be ready (this project is not for the impatient!). Later on, I will post to let you know how my sauerkraut is doing. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for making sauerkraut, along with photos, here and here. If you’ve experimented with sauerkraut making, I’d be delighted to hear what you’ve learned.  Please comment!

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5 responses

  1. Have you tried using the pickl-it jars? they are amazing for fermentating kraut – no mold, no exploding jars, consistent results – I love mine…let me know if you want more info – I offer them here in Palo Alto at a great price 🙂
    Love your blog!

    • Lisa, where do you offer the pickl-it jars in Palo Alto? I searched online and found this very interesting website by the founders of the pickl-it jars. For anyone into fermentation, more information is always better. Thank you!
      http://www.pickl-it.com/

  2. I just found your blog and though this is an older entry, I wanted to comment. I learned to make saurkraut from the Amish this summer. I tried it before with medium results following online directions.
    I was told to work it with my hands until it wilts and then pack it. The Amish who taught me do not weight it after packing. Salt is important- you have to weigh the shredded cabbage first. If you have 6 lbs of cabbage, you’d use 3 tablespoons of sea salt. Thats the formula.
    Lids placed loosely on jars, jars in a tray to catch overflow and preferably fermented in the cellar during summer. This time, my kraut is excellent!

    I have to say that I love your blog!

    • It’s great that you were able to learn sauerkraut making from people with deep experience. My first batch turned out pretty well,and now that the weather’s cooler, I plan to start another batch.It’s such a great food too have on hand, no cooking involved!

      • I think your kraut looks mouth wateringly delicious personally. We had tons of cabbage and it was either blanch to freeze in a heatwave-or making kraut. I love this solution:)

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