1 head of cabbage-washed, shredded
Good salt (like sea-salt or pink salt)
Tools: Flat pans and something to squish with (I use a rolling pin with the rollers taken off) 2 Quart Mason Jars (Washed and sterilized-I use the dishwasher, then rinse them out with vinegar just before stuffing)
- Place the shredded cabbage in a large flat pan on a stable surface
- Sprinkle salt over the top of the cabbage. I use about 2t-1T per head, depending on the size of the cabbage. (It helps wilt the cabbage and provides more flavor to the finished kraut)
- With the end of a blunt object, press the cabbage HARD, twisting and turning. (This is a great upper arm workout ladies!)
- When the cabbage turns from green to translucent and there is about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan, the hard work is done.
- Stuff the jars to about 2″ full, pressing in hard to make sure water covers the cabbage in the jar about 1″.
- Sometimes I will leave my rolling pin in the top of the jar to further press down the cabbage.
- Place the jars in a small pan (In case they overflow, sometimes they do that is a good thing), and cover the batch with a light towel.
- Let nature work. Amazing, friendly bacteria will begin populating the cabbage, tuning it into the most tasty, sour, bite of bacteria on any hot-dog.
- Every day, these jars need to be checked to make sure water continues to cover the cabbage. If the cabbage meets air, it will spoil and ruin all that hard work. I have neglected to squeeze my cabbage long enough and that has happened! SO sad!
- I start tasting on day two. Once the cabbage tastes as sharp as I desire, I lid it and pop it in the fridge. Done!
- I make large batches and freeze the kraut. I do not recommend canning sauerkraut. Once it is canned, all the good little friends inside are dead, so it is no more than pickled cabbage. It can be heated slightly and still maintain much good bacteria, but high temps are not good. It will last years in the back of the fridge, so no need to worry about eating it fast once it is made.
When do I make sauerkraut? It is about that time. Every year around the beginning of March, grocery stores lower the price of cabbage dramatically. Yes, cabbage is super cheap year round, but before St. Patrick’s Day, I have been able to get an entire head for about .35. I buy about six…eight, if I am feeling industrious.
Does everyone in my house like sauerkraut? I love sauerkraut and don’t enjoy a hot-dog without it. But it was not always the case. When my mother had it, none of us kids would touch it. She got creative and put it in chocolate cake! That cake was requested by us on many occasions. I think sweets were so rare in my growing up home that if we asked for sauerkraut cake we were at least likely to get cake. Now, I have truly come to enjoy it’s tart nature and hope my children will at some point. DO far one of my children is on board with me. So I enjoy a side of sauerkraut with kielbasa, liver, and hot-dogs with her. Maybe cake would help the rest of them like it too!
Why is Sauerkraut Healthy? Sauerkraut is a fermented vegetable, meaning that it allows friendly bacteria, whose names I will not bore you with, to grow. Good sauerkraut can host a number of bacteria, similar to sourdough, yogurt, or vinegar. Friendly bacteria is important in our innards and we eat far too little. I believe in eating a large variety of fermented foods in order to get the largest variety of little friends in my innards. Not every fermented food produces the same bacteria or even enough bacteria.
Why Do I Make Sauerkraut instead of buy it? I choose to make my own sauerkraut rather than buy it because the processing in most store bought sauerkraut kills all bacteria, especially canning. I also love the depth of flavor that I can get by making my own.