Out of all the fermented and lacto-fermented foods I am eating on a regular basis (and I eat a lot of them!), sauerkraut is probably the easiest one to make at home. The only ingredients you need are cabbage, salt, and a few days of waiting time. If you want to start eating more probiotics then sauerkraut is a good place to start. It’s also helpful to those who cannot digest dairy as many other probiotics are dairy-based (yogurt, kefir, and so on).
I usually eat the most sauerkraut (and other fermented foods) during winter when seasonal fruit and vegetables are scarce. Cabbage is very accessible and you can make a few jars of sauerkraut to use later.
Why would you eat sauerkraut? The main benefit of probiotics is that they are good for your gut flora and immune system. They also contain plenty of vitamin C, an important vitamin during the flu season. Sauerkraut and fermentation in general has been widely used by our ancestors because few other food preservation methods existed. Nowadays it has become kind of a lost art which is a real shame because we lose out on some very important health benefits. So I try to eat as much sauerkraut as I can to get some of those benefits back.
- a sharp knife
- optional: a food processor
- large bowl
- a potato masher OR a mallet
- a half gallon glass jar
- a jar lid OR a vegetable fermentation valve lid
*As you can see, you can make your own homemade sauerkraut without any fancy equipment. However, if you find yourself liking the taste of sauerkraut and will want to continue making it, I recommend you invest in a fermentation crock. It will make the job much easier!
- 1 large cabbage head, can be green or purple
- sea salt
- Cut out the cord of the cabbage head and discard.
- Cut the cabbage in half and then into four wedges.
- Slice the cabbage thinly used a knife or a food processor. Transfer the slices to a large bowl. Layer them with sea salt after each batch. It should look like this: a layer of shredded cabbage, sea salt, shredded cabbage, sea salt,…
- Leave the bowl at room temperature for at least an hour and a maximum of three hours. The salt will draw out the water from the cabbage. It will be ready once you can see about one cup of liquid in the bowl.
- Mash the cabbage down using a potato masher or a mallet. Mash it until it breaks down a bit.
- Transfer the mashed cabbage to your glass jar. Pack it in as tightly as possible.
- If there isn’t enough water, pour some more in so that it almost reaches the brim of the jar.
- Now cover your jar with a lid. If you are using a regular non-reactive lid, just put it loosely on top. If you are using a valve lid, screw it on tightly. It’s best if the water is touching the lid from the inside.
- Set your jar in a dark place in your kitchen. I usually do it somewhere under the counter. If you have other food fermenting at the same time, make sure there are at least a few feet of space free.
- Uncover the jar each day to check if there is any mold. If there is then you can simply scoop it out (the cabbage is safe). Keep this up for about a week.
- Once a week has passed, taste your sauerkraut and decide whether you want to have it fermenting for longer. Personally, I usually keep the process going for two weeks.
- Once your sauerkraut is ready, replace the jar lid with a clean one and screw it on tightly. Put the jar in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.
Eat small batches of sauerkraut every day to enjoy its full benefits!