I liked the sauerkraut I made last year. We don’t eat a lot of it, but enough to make it fun to make our own. And maybe we don’t eat it enough because we used to buy it from the store. Which came first, not sure.
If I’m going to talk about easy recipes this week, this is the queen of easyness. Really! It’s more work to go to the store or to the farmer’s market and buy the cabbage than make the sauerkraut.
Last year and this year, I used Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin (Quarry Books, 2012) and it turned out so good. My mom used to make sauerkraut growing up, but I didn’t eat it then. Not sure why.
Here’s what I did.
You slice the cabbage really thin (we don’t have a food processor so I just sliced it as thin as I could with a sharp knife.) Then I added salt to it, “massage” it until some of the liquid comes out of the cabbage and put it in a jar to ferment. You need to pack it hard. OK, so maybe this is the hardest part.
Then you let it sit and ferment for few days. Once you like the sourness then put it in the fridge. That’s it!
And because it is so easy, I also made sauerkraut with the green cabbage. Though I like the color of the purple one, don’t you?
Few pages later in the book there is Fermented Carolina-Style Slaw. I don’t know if I’ve ever had it, but it looks so pretty in the book and I had some cabbage left. We had carrots on hand and green bell peppers from the garden.
So I went ahead and made a little jar of this beautiful slaw too. This recipe needs another step adding some spices, but it’s also pretty easy. Ours is not done yet, because I just made it a couple of days ago, but will let you know how these recipes end up tasting.
So, I made three recipes in less than an hour. That’s not bad. Especially when later we can enjoy great flavors in our dishes, with just few minutes of work and few days of wait. Mmm… can’t wait.
And yes Oh My! I’m lucky because thanks to Quarry Books, I am able to share the recipe from this book, here with you. How cool is that! You should try these recipes too.
Basic Sauerkraut Recipe – Excerpt from Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin.
In its basic form, sauerkraut contains only two ingredients: cabbage and salt. The recipe can be varied by adding other vegetables or seasonings. By eating it young or letting it ferment for a longer time, you can choose between crunchy, slightly sour cabbage; epic, Wagnerian SAUERKRAUT; or anything in between.
2 pounds (900 g) cabbage (green and red cabbage work best for this simple sauerkraut recipe)
4 teaspoons (20 g) sea salt
Large cutting board (wood is ideal)
Large knife (a chef’s knife is ideal)
Large mixing bowl
1-quart (950-ml) mason jar, or similar glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
Yield: 1 quart (950 ml)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 days–4 weeks
If your cabbage is not exactly 2 pounds (900 g), use approximately 2 teaspoons (10 g) of sea salt per pound (450 g) of cabbage. Alternatively, you can use 2 percent salt by weight.
For best results, weigh your cabbage after you have removed its outer leaves and core.
For each pound (450 g) of cabbage you use, you will need 16 ounces (475 ml) of jar capacity, or a bit more. Depending on the size of your jars, you can use a small jar to help pack the sauerkraut into the bigger jars (in step 10).
1. Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard them (Note: This is particularly important if your cabbage is not organically grown.)
2. If you are working with a whole cabbage, cut it in half, from the south pole to the north pole.
3. Cut each half once more, along the north-south axis, so that the whole cabbage is now in four pieces.
4. Optional: Remove some of the core of the cabbage by cutting diagonally into each quarter.
5. With its south pole facing you, lay a quarter of the cabbage on your cutting board, and slice it as finely or as coarsely as you like. More finely cut cabbage will ferment more quickly and will become a softer kraut. Coarser cut cabbage will lead to a crunchier product. Be careful of your fingers!
6. When it becomes awkward to slice, turn or flip the cabbage quarter in whatever way is convenient to make it more stable on the cutting board and easier to cut.
7. If you prefer, use a food processor with a “slice” wheel to shred your cabbage. You could also use a deli-style meat slicer, a box grater, or a purpose-built Krauthobel.
8. Slice the rest of the cabbage in this manner. When you are done, put it all in the mixing bowl and add the salt.
9. With clean hands, firmly massage the mixture of cabbage and salt until you are able to squeeze liquid out of the cabbage. Depending on how fresh the cabbage is, how much cabbage you have, and how hard you are squeezing, this may take anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes. You will develop a feel for it after you have done it a few times.
10. Pack the mixture into a jar or jars . Using an appropriately sized implement, such as a small jar or potato masher, push down as hard as you can to get rid of as many air bubbles as possible, so that the liquid rises above the top of the cabbage. Ensure that there is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between the top of the cabbage and the mouth of the jar, because the cabbage will expand as it ferments.
11. Close the lid of the jar and place it in a cool, dark place, if possible (between 50°F and 75°F [10°C and 25°C]).
Check on your sauerkraut every day or two. Open the jar, smell it, taste it with a clean fork, and pack the sauerkraut back down until the liquid rises above it. After a few days, it should get bubbly. After a few more days, it should start to smell and taste sour.
You can eat it any time you want, or you can put it the refrigerator to arrest its progress. Young sauerkraut is crunchier; older sauerkraut has a stronger flavor. For maximum digestive and nutritive benefits, eat your sauerkraut raw (i.e., do not heat it beyond about 115°F [46°C]). However, if digestive and nutritive benefits are not your main goals, there’s no shame in cooking your sauerkraut. In fact, old sauerkraut that has become soggy and very sour may taste best cooked.
If you’d like to see this recipe with step by step photos, you should go check the publisher’s blog, Quarry Spoon. It’s great!
So, now I’m still waiting for the magic of fermentation to happen. Then, some good food to our plates. Will share what we think later. Let us know if you make it too.