Homemade sauerkraut is a traditional food that has been around for eons. While the making of it does require muscle power and time, the process is incredibly simple. Bit of vegetables will fly as you slice and pound, salt will draw out liquids and the end result will be mouth-watering good!
If you like fermented or pickled flavors, you’ll enjoy this deeply flavored, tangy dish! And while a wide variety of goods can be added to a base of cabbage, this particular recipe calls for cabbage, carrots and garlic. A favorite in our home!
What You Need to Know About Produce
You’ll have the best tasting sauerkraut when made from freshly picked vegetables. From a nutritional standpoint, you will only benefit when produce goes directly from garden to table. Should you be able to grow your own, do so! If this isn’t possible, try to source freshly picked vegetables at your local farmer’s market for this recipe.
Cabbage and Sauerkraut Recipe
- 8 medium heads of fresh, white cabbage
- 16 medium garden carrots (or root vegetables of choice)
- 12 Tbs salt
- 8-10 garlic cloves
- (optional) 1-2 large onions
- cutting board & large knife
- large stockpot or crock
- something to pound kraut with: a wine or water bottle, an actual kraut pounder
- containers to hold the ferment
Directions for Making Sauerkraut
Wash carrots. If sourced at the grocery store, peel to remove pesticides. Grate carrots in a cheese grater until you’ve exhausted the stack. Also run garlic and onions (if using) through the grater as well. Keep juices.
Remove outer leaves on your cabbages. Rinse, if desired. Cut in half, being sure to remove the wedge shaped core. If left, they sometimes gives the ferment a bitter flavor.
With a sharp knife, quarter the halves, then cut them into slices no wider than 1/4 inch.
Cut lengths into 2-3 parts. Add to your crock/stockpot until you’ve prepared a quarter of the cabbages.
Add to the sliced cabbages one quarter of the salt, carrot and garlic/onion. Put your pounder to use or, grab fistfuls and squeeze. Keep working it until cabbage looks bruised.
As it bruises, it will begin losing juice. The salts also help draw out liquid.
Continue adding 1/4 of the salt/vegetables, pounding them until everything is used up.
This process takes both time and muscle power! In the end, cabbage should be translucent in color due to bruising and will be slightly orange color. The longer you pound it, the tenderer your finished product will be!
Packing the Pounded Vegetables
Remove vegetables from the crock/stockpot and pack it into fermenting jars. I prefer to use the wide mouth, half gallon size.
Fill to the jar’s shoulder and no more. When fermentation occurs, gasses will push vegetables upward and if there isn’t adequate room, juices will overflow the jar.
Pack until all the raw kraut is used up.
Take the leftover juices and pour it into the jars. Ideally, liquid will come just past the vegetables. If there isn’t enough juice to go around, you can mix 1 tsp salt to 1 C water, then use it to top off your ferments.
The Fermentation Process
Gather up once-used canning lids and metal bands to fit. Wipe the rim of each jar to free it from cabbage bits. Put lids in place and tighten down.
When fermentation starts, (usually within 62 hrs) be sure to break the seal every day to release gasses. Continue breaking seals until the kraut moves into the next stage of fermentation (aka no more gas buildup).
If you wish to overwinter your kraut, it can now be placed in a root cellar, refrigerator or cold room after gasses stop building.
How to Use Your Sauerkraut
We store kraut in our cold room and eat it all winter long. In its raw form, it makes a delicious side to cooked meats. It pairs wonderfully with green salad. And sometimes, we eat a plain bowl of it just because we can! Nutritious food, this stuff. You can’t eat too much of it!