Reap the rewards of fermentation with this easy sauerkraut recipe
The flavour and benefit of fermented food is not a fad. The food we eat is meant to sustain, enchant and inspire and as always, nature does it best. Fermentation is the earth at work and what a privilege it is to reap the benefits.
My easy recipe for homemade sauerkraut
Prep time: 15 min | Fermentation time: 3–10 days
Special equipment needed
1L capacity glass jar
Smaller glass jar that fits inside the larger jar
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing down the smaller jar
A clean kitchen cloth for covering the jar
An elastic band or string for securing the cloth
1.5 kg green cabbage, finely shredded (keep outer leaves to seal the top of the jar)
1 ½ Tbsp (22.5ml) sea salt
1 Tbsp (15ml) cumin seeds
1. Make sure the large and small jar are properly washed and rinsed.
2. Place the cabbage into a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top.
3. Massage and squeeze the cabbage with your hands to work in the salt. The cabbage will gradually become watery and limp. This will take around 10 minutes.
4. Add the cumin seeds and combine thoroughly.
5. Pack the jar tightly with the cabbage, using your fist to push it down. Pour any liquid left over in the mixing bowl into the jar.
6. Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the cabbage in the jar. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
7. Once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, place the smaller jar into the large jar and weigh it down with the stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and submerged beneath its own liquid.
8. Cover the mouth of the jar with the kitchen cloth and secure it with the elastic band. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting in.
9. Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the smaller jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become softer and more compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
10. If, after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
11. Keep the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
12. Check the cabbage daily, pressing it down if it has floated above the liquid.
13. Start tasting it after 3 days. When you are happy with the flavour, remove the weight, screw on the lid, and place it the refrigerator. The sauerkraut can continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer – it all depends on your taste preference.
14. During the fermentation process, a white scum may form on the surface of the jar. This is a sign of healthy fermentation and can be skimmed off before refrigeration.
15. The sauerkraut will keep for at least two months if kept refrigerated. Again, just go by taste.
Some useful fermentation tips
- Green, red, savoy or Chinese – most cabbages make great sauerkraut. Make individual batches or combine them for a multi-coloured and textured result.
- To make larger or smaller batches of sauerkraut, keep the same ratio of cabbage to salt and adjust the size of the container. Smaller batches will ferment more quickly and larger batches will take longer.
- Do everything you can to store sauerkraut at a cool room temperature. At too high a temperature, the sauerkraut can go bad and become soggy. Temperatures lower than room temperature are fine, as long as they are above freezing. The fermentation process will just take longer.
- It is better to use a larger jar than is necessary to hold the cabbage. If the fermentation is very active or if you have overfilled your jar, the brine can sometimes bubble over.
- You may find mould growing on the surface of the sauerkraut. This is nothing to worry about. Mould forms when the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or if the environment is too hot. The sauerkraut is still edible as it is preserved by the lactic acid. Simply remove any sauerkraut affected by the mould and allow it to continue to ferment.
Inspired? Maybe something in our canning and preserving collection can help you on your fermentation exploration journey.
We hope the fermenting bug bites hard because this is one food trend we’re so glad has seen a re-emergence and can definitely attest to its health benefits both on the body and in the collective movement towards slowing down for the sake of living more intentionally.