1 head green cabbage, about 1½ pounds
½ cup white wine (optional)
OR 1 teaspoon each caraway, celery seeds, and dill seed ground and mixed with ½ cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
If you choose to use the salt, toss your shredded cabbage with the 1 teaspoon. If not, pack the cabbage into your jar and cover it with your wine or your herb seed mixture (for low-salt kraut, using both the salt and the wine/seed mixture enhances
the flavor). Proceed as you would for basic kraut, using more wine or water to raise the brine level if needed. Wine kraut is almost sweet; seeded kraut is mild and savory. Low- or no-salt kraut will ferment somewhat faster than salted kraut, so be prepared to refrigerate and enjoy it promptly once it tastes good. This should be eaten within two weeks.
More commonly one would use 3 Tbs of salt with five pounds of shredded cabbage. The cabbage should have the outer leaves removed, cut in half or quarters and the core is NOT used.This salted cabbage should stand for a few minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt slightly. This also helps to pack the cabbage firmly. Usually a stone crock or glass jar would be used. Tamp it down with a wooden spoon or your hands (washed of course). This is down until the juice comes to the surface. Repeat, the shredding, salting and packing until the crock is nearly full, leaving some 4 inches at the top.
My mother would cover the cabbage with muslin cloth and tuck the edges down against the inside. I skipped that. The main thing is that the cabbage remains anaerobic and that no air gets to it. I found that using a heavy duty bag plastic bag filled with water worked fairly well. A friend of mine used a fitted paraffined board and actually used a dumbbell from a weight set to put pressure on the Kraut. He also used a cleaned bowling pin to squeeze down (not beat down) the cabbage. I never found one so just continued used my fist.
Fermentation needs normal room temperatures of say 68 to 72 but not much higher. Your Sauerkraut should be ready in 5- 6 weeks.Need I add the smell of this might not be welcome inside the house, so a garage might be a good place to try this out.
Storing it means canning it sort of. I used to heat it to simmering but did NOT boil the stuff. You want hot sauerkraut not mush. Now comes the regular canning stuff. Pack into clean, HOT jars and cover with hot juice to 1/2″ of the top. Lid and cap. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints, and 20 minutes for quarts.
Place on a clean towel and let cool to room temperature. Check the caps according to directions. If not right refrigerate and eat withing two weeks.
I have also done them like pickles directly in the jar. 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. honey. Press down and cover with boiling water, letting it settle through the kraut. Use a knife blade to allow to let air bubbles escape. Same 1/2 inch spacing and put on the caps and tighten. These may bulge after a few days but that is okay. NEVER loosen the lids!!! I would also put them into a larger container should an accident occur and with the fermentation odor this defiantly needs to be down in a cold cellar 1or garage. This may take 6 weeks.
Bad sauerkraut is judged by color, off odors and soft texture. Dump it! Try more salt next time and make sure the temperature is not too high. The salt and cabbage should always be well mixed together. Sauerkraut exposed to air will darken. Again get rid of it! Another caution, do not make more than you can use! I also tend to store it in the fridge. Check out my pickles and always feel free to critique and put in your own thoughts. Regarding the caution: Making too much in a crock you cannot keep the air out is a lost cause. Use a smaller crock pot.
My own failure was using overlapping cling wrap to seal the crock before putting down the lid. The seam allowed moisture containing perhaps yeast or other bacteria to drip into the not well enough covered material beneath. One or two 180 degree crossed cling wraps on a smaller pot, covered with another plastic bag and lid would have been better. Besides. What was I thinking? Five quarts of sauerkraut? Always take the time to label the month and year of processing!
Beyond Cabbage – More like Kimchi
If you don’t like cabbage, there is no reason to limit yourself to just that! Radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, artichokes, onions, and even apples are delicious made into kraut…by themselves or in combinations. Add grated fresh ginger root, cloves of garlic, and hot chilies to root vegetables and ferment them and you have kimchi, a healthy Korean relish consumed daily and said to beat chicken soup for getting over colds.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, a preservation technique that precedes modern-day refrigeration.
Avoid canned sauerkraut, because it’s pasteurized, meaning the healthy bacteria is mostly killed off. Instead, make your own homemade sauerkraut in a crock. Some store bought kraut under refrigeration can be good.
Please note that diced apples could also be substituted
(C) Herb Senft 2014
What do you call an angry German? A Sauerkraut.