Recipe: Homemade Sauerkraut

Sep 17th, 2016 | By | Category: blog, cook something, vegetables and pasta
Squeezing the cabbage

Squeezing the cabbage

Sandor Katz, fermentation revivalist and author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, has been making sauerkraut for years and offers an updated recipe (“I’m always tweaking recipes) for you to try.

Vessel

1 liter wide-mouth jar, or a larger jar or crock

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of vegetables per quart, any varieties of cabbage alone or in combination, or at least ½ cabbage and the remainder any combination of radish, turnip, carrot, beet, kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichoke, onion, shallot, leek, garlic, greens, seaweed, peppers, or other vegetables.
  • Approximately 1 Tablespoon salt (whatever type you use; start with a little less if using a coarse grind)
  • Other seasonings as desired, such as caraway seeds, juniper berries, dill, hot peppers, ginger, turmeric, or whatever you can conjure in your imagination.

Directions:

  1. Chop or grate vegetables into a bowl. The purpose of this is to expose surface area in order to pull water out of the vegetables, so the vegetables can be submerged under their own juices. (Fermenting whole vegetables or large chunks requires a salt water brine.)
  2. Salt vegetables lightly and add seasonings as you chop. Sauerkraut does not require heavy salting. Salt and season to taste. Taste after the next step and add more salt if desired. It is always easier to add salt than to remove it.
  3. Squeeze salted vegetables with your hands for a few moments (or pound with a blunt tool). This bruises the vegetables, breaking down cell walls and enabling them to give up their juices. Squeeze until you can pick up a handful and when you squeeze, juice releases (as from a wet sponge).
  4. Pack salted and squeezed vegetables into your jar. Press vegetables down with force so that juice rises up and over them. Fill jar almost all the way to the top, leaving a little space for expansion. Screw the top on, but be aware that fermentation produces carbon dioxide, so pressure will build up in the jar and needs to be released daily, especially the first few days when activity will be most vigorous.
  5. Wait. Be sure to loosen top to relieve pressure each day for the first few days. Rate of fermentation will be faster in a warm environment, slower in a cool one. Some people prefer their krauts lightly fermented for just a few days; others prefer a stronger, more acidic flavor that develops over a longer time. Taste after just a few days, then a few days later, and at regular intervals to discover what you prefer. In a cool environment, kraut can continue fermenting slowly for months.
  6. The most common problem that people encounter in fermenting vegetables is surface growth of yeasts and/or molds, facilitated by oxygen. If you should encounter surface growth, simply scrape off the top layer and discard. The fermented vegetables beneath will look, smell, and taste fine.
  7. Enjoy your kraut! And start a new batch before this one runs out. For a larger vessel: The process is exactly same at an scale, in terms of ingredients, proportions, preparation, and time. The only differences are in the vessel itself. In a crock or other larger vessel, use a weight to keep the vegetables submerged. I typically use a plate that fits inside the crock and sits on the vegetables; a jug filled with water to weigh it down; and a cloth over the top to keep flies away. Some crocks are designed with water locks that keep air out but allow carbon dioxide pressure inside to release.
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