Sauerkraut – basic recipe

All you need is cabbage!

Sauerkraut has many fathers. By it’s world-renowned name one could assume that it is a German ferment. Many other countries (including Poland) claim to be the first ones to have made it. As with the majority of fermented food products – tracking down the pioneers of sauerkrauting is nearly impossible. One way or another, this lactofermented cabbage found its way to the tables of millions of people around the world, especially in Europe.

Sauerkraut manufacture in Poland

Sauerkraut, as the name suggests, is a sour cabbage. The method of the preparation is very simple and if you want to make it yourself, all you need from a market is 1 head of cabbage. The rest of your fermentation equipment is already in your kitchen!

By introducing salt to the cabbage we promote the growth of specific types of bacterias – lactic acid bacteria. These microbes are our friends that can help in functioning of a human body in many ways (promoting digestion, providing with nutrients, boosting immunity, curing hangovers). Sauerkraut is also a great low-calories alternative packed with vitamin C. Read more about health benefits of fermented products here.

As mentioned – to make sauerkraut at home you need to follow a few steps and remember about a few rules.

You will need

  • 1 head of a cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 clean jar (medium size)
  • 1 bowl
  • sharp knife or mandoline
  • chopping board

Once you have everything in one place, wash your hands well and start preparing your ferment.

Step-by-step recipe:

  1. Wash the cabbage well in cold water.
  2. Take off one or two first leaves and put aside.
  3. Cut the cabbage in half and continue slicing into thin pieces (include the core – it’s full of natural sugars!)
  4. Transfer everything to the bowl
  5. Massage the cabbage, incorporating the salt for 3-5 minutes
  6. Once you notice liquid gathering in the bottom of the bowl – transfer the cabbage to the jar
  7. Pack the jar VERY TIGHTLY (pressing down you will notice more and more liquid squeezing out – it’s a good sign!)
  8. Add remaining liquid from the bowl as well!
  9. Cover cabbage with both leaves you set aside in the beginning and close the jar loosely (or cover it with a clean kitchen towel)
  10. Wait 7-10 days
You can add spices (ie. cumin)
Juice from previous batch (optional)

Sauerkraut is ready! Put it in the fridge and enjoy when desired!

The rules to remember focus on working clean. To ensure that everything is going well, do your best to follow these few principals.

Fermentation good practices:

  • Wash your hands, products and utensils (including the jar) very well. Dry them with a clean towel or kitchen paper if necessary.
  • Make sure there are no signs of mold or small insects in the vegetables.
  • Keep checking your sauerkraut daily. Always make sure that all of the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. Oxygen can lead to spoiling of your ferment.
  • When tasting, always use clean utensils (fork, tweezers).
  • Keeping final product in the fridge will prevent it from spoiling and slow down the fermentation.

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