This is the simplest Sauerkraut recipe I know. I made it up trying to replicate the Croatian tradition that we did at home (Canada) growing up - which was a large wine barrel full of sauerkraut once per year. I can’t do that here as I don’t have a cold cellar to keep it in. So I have to keep making it throughout the year. Feel free to experiment with added herbs and spices; I don’t because I'm after the taste I grew up with as a kid.
1 Large bowl
2-4 Mason Jars - 1 quart size - almost 1 Litre
(depending on amount of cabbage (1 large green cabbage uses 2-3 mason jars usually)
Something to keep the cabbage below the waterline (an almost tight fit glass as is in my pictures, or a small plastic bag with water in it)
1 tray to put the mason jars.
1 or more cabbage - no matter what type
Himalayan Salt or other type of Sea Salt (abit more than 1 Teaspoon per Mason Jar)
- Pull off the dirty out layers of the cabbage until you end up with a nice clean one.
- Cut your cabbage into quarters, and cut out the small hard white bit at the bottom of the cabbage.
- Slice one of the quarters width-wise to the thickness you like your sauerkraut - I like mine 3mm thick - about 1/3 the thickness of your phone
- Put the sliced cabbage in the large bowl and add 1 Teaspoon of salt on top of cabbage.
- Squeeze repeatedly the cabbage (scrunching it with your hands) for about 5 min. Until you see a small amount of fluid squeezed out of the cabbage at the bottom of bowl (maybe roughly 2 teaspoons worth or more, as an estimate)
- Taste it. It should be salty, but not overpoweringly so.
- Put all this wet salty cabbage in one of the mason jars.
- Press the cabbage down very firmly with either a blunt object such as a pestle, or even just your fingers (the back of the tips of your fingers). You will see water coming up on top of the cabbage.
- Ideally the jar is filled up 3-4 cm’s from the top. If not, add some from the next bowl you’re about to make, or you may need to add a bit more salty water (2.5% concentration).
- Repeat steps 3-9, until all cabbage is used.
- Place your jars in a tray to capture excess fluid that will spill out of jars in the coming weeks.
- Now, this is the critical part, you must ensure that the cabbage is always below the waterline (if it makes contact with air for prolonged time, it will get fuzzy with white mould. To achieve this, either find a glass with a flat bottom that will just fit in the top of your mason jar, or use a small plastic bag that you add some water to and put it in the mason jar. The goal is to keep the cabbage submerged in water and still let the gas bubbles escape that are produced from fermentation.
- Place the tray that is holding your precious sauerkraut-to-be jars in a safe place. Ideally somewhere that the temperature will be relatively constant. Ideally a cool temperature is best (10 deg or so). But, I haven’t always been able to do this, and most of the time my jars are in the kitchen room where temperature fluctuates day and night is is closer to 20 deg celsius on average. It’ll work no matter what, but it will produce a different tasting end product with these variables. And fermentation will take more time if cool temperature compared to room temperature. Traditionally it should be in a cool room.
- Every day check in with your cabbage. Is it bubbling yet? (should start to see bubbles in the first couple of days if at room temp). Does the tray need to be cleaned out? Is the cabbage submerged, or does it need abit of water added to it? (you’ll find you may need to do this daily after the first week has passed if your cabbage is at room temperature - no need to add salted water, just water will do - I use boxed water from Mt Lofty Springs)
- Taste it every week. If at room temperature it will likely take 2 - 3 weeks - the longer the better really, as far as probiotic formation is concerned. But you also have to consider your taste buds - when you’re happy with the degree of sour taste and texture (the longer you leave it, the less crunchy it will be, and become a bit more slimy.
- Put a lid on it, and keep it in the fridge, this will slow down the fermentation process significantly, preserving the taste and texture you like.
- Enjoy it every day! We have it as a side with our eggs every morning :)