Cabbage. So simple. So cheap. So many ways I love thee.
But my most favorite is fermented in the form of sauerkraut.
I’m not talkin’ about the slimy filled glass jars or metal cans in your supermarket. I’m talking about the real deal. Fermented, unpasteurized, sauerkraut like our great-grandparents used to eat. The kind with the zing & zip to it! My husbands great-grandmother (MeMa, 96 years old) has told me about sneaking down to the cellar as a little girl & skimming the ‘kraut juice out of the crocks for a sour treat! Our 7 year old takes it in her lunch to school & my husband’s grandpa enjoys it like a sweet memory of his past.
It’s good on almost everything. Eggs, pulled pork, sausages or hot dogs, or just as a side veggie at any meal. Fermented sauerkraut is full of vitamins C, B & K, contains live lactobacilli (good bacteria), fiber, and helps break down proteins. Cabbage is not the “poor man’s food” any longer. This is real food that deserves a chance!
So how do you make it? Simple, really! Here’s a quick “how to make sauerkraut”.
- At least 1 head of cabbage (start small with your first batch), room temp so your hands don’t turn into icicles.
- 1 tsp of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt (like this) per head of cabbage
- Very sharp knife, that will cut cabbage into very fine slivers
- Cutting board
- Glass or plastic bowl
- Fermenting crock with weighted stones & lid (like mine) or wide mouth large glass jar & smaller jar, kitchen towel & rubber band.
- Your hands!
- Remove the outer leaves (2 or 3) off the cabbage, and set aside.
- Cut the “butt” or stem off of the head of cabbage.
- Quarter the remaining cabbage, and start cutting each portion into “slivers”, approximately 1/8 of an inch wide.
- Put all of your finished slivers in a bowl, and sprinkle the amount of salt per heads of cabbage over the top of the slivered cabbage.
- Now is the fun part! Start massaging your slivered & salted cabbage. The goal is to “break” the structure of the cabbage & release it’s natural juices. So massage, massage, massage. Do this until your cabbage has reduced it’s size by half. You should also notice cabbage juice in the bottom of the bowl.
- Transfer your massaged cabbage AND it’s juice to a fermenting crock or large wide mouth glass jar.
- Pack your cabbage into the crock or jar until it is covered by it’s own juice. If it isn’t covered with it’s own juice, it’ll mold & rot (not in a good way), so squeeze it until there is enough juice.
- Once you’ve got enough juice & your cabbage is tightly packed into your crock/jar, lay your outer leaves (that you kept) on top of your packed in cabbage.
- Cover the leaves with crock “stones” & make sure they are weighted down to bring the water level about the cabbage. If you use a wide mouth jar, you will need to use a smaller jar inserted into the opening of the wide mouth jar in place of the “stones”. If using the jar method, fill the smaller jar with marbles or water so that it is weighted to hold the cabbage below the juice line.
- Now you can put the lid on your fermenting crock, or if using the jar method- you will drape the kitchen towel over both jars, securing the rubber band around the bottom wide mouth jar. The point of this is to let gases out, and not let any debris (dust, bugs, etc.) in.
- I personally let mine ferment for 4-6 weeks. Factors like temperature can speed up or slow down the process, so I recommend checking at least once a week. You can check juice level, smell, or see if there is any mold (if this happens then throw it all out & start over).
- Once it’s ready (to your liking), remove from the crock, place into jars & refrigerate. If already using a jar, then stick a lid on it, and refrigerate it. We usually eat ours within a few weeks, so how long it is “good” for after that I couldn’t tell you. Enjoy!