Homemade sauerkraut is wonderfully different from the kraut you get at the grocery store. It has a nice crunch, it is perfectly sour, and pairs well with a pork roast.
Sauerkraut is often one of the first fermentation projects recommended for newbies. Mainly because it is very easy to make, and the results are pretty delicious! Amanda Feifer, the author of the book Ferment Your Vegetables, and the blog Phickle.com, demonstrated this recipe at the PA Farm Show, and lucky us… we went home with a jar!
2 pounds (900 g) cabbage
4 teaspoons (22 g) kosher salt
1 wide mouth quart jar
Core cabbage and remove any unattractive or wilted outer leaves. Reserve one, compost the rest.
Shred cabbage into 1/4 inch strips using a sharp chef’s knife, the slicer blade of your food processor, a mandoline or a kraut shredder.
Place shredded cabbage into a large bowl, add salt and toss thoroughly for about 30 seconds or until the cabbage has a sheen of moisture on it. The salt has successfully drawn some water from the cabbage.
You now have the option of continuing to gently massage and squeeze the cabbage or letting the salt and cabbage continue osmosis while you go do something else for 20 minutes. If you let them sit a bit, the work of kneading the cabbage to release as much water as possible will be easier when you return.
Work it for another few minutes. When there is a visible puddle of water in the bottom of the bowl and the cabbage pieces stay in a loose clump when squeezed, you are read to start packing your jar.
Take a handful of cabbage in your dominant hand and a clean, quart-size jar in the other. Press the cabbage into the bottom of the jar, and pack it along the bottom, with the top of your fist or your fingers. Continue packing in this fashion, pressing along the sides and bottom, until it comes to about 1 inch below the jar rim.
If there’s still cabbage that hasn’t been packed in to the jar yet, press down on the top of the cabbage in the jar and tilt it to pour cabbage liquid back into the bowl. This will give you more space in which to pack the remaining cabbage. Place the reserved cabbage leaf on top of the kraut and, with clean hands, press the sides of the leaf around the sides of the shredded cabbage, creating a surface barrier. Place the jar lid loosely on, but don’t tighten completely. If you’re nervous about not using any special fermenting tools, give these Pickle Pipes a try.
Allow to ferment at room temperature for 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the warmth of your home and your taste preferences. Check weekly to make sure that the brine level is still above the top of the cabbage. If it isn’t, press down on the top cabbage leaf to get the brine to rise back above. If brine is severely depleted, you may want to add more brine, at a concentration of about 5% by weight, but there shouldn’t be a need to do this.
Once the taste is sour enough for your preference, remove the weight, secure the jar lid and place jar in the fridge.
This yields one quart of sauerkraut but can easily be scaled for larger quantities.
We let our kraut ferment for about 6 weeks. We used our homemade kraut for this pork and sauerkraut recipe. We adapted the recipe a bit by replacing the apple and brown sugar with some apple butter.
If you need any fermenting supplies we’ve got you covered. We carry all the supplies, pictured below, plus some fun extras. Check out our fermenting tools here.