Regular readers will know I enjoy making lacto-fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. They are easy to make, and a good way to preserve homegrown veggies from our garden. Sauerkraut is also one of those things where the finished product is truly greater than the sum of its parts. While I sometimes like to add other flavoring ingredients, in its simplest form sauerkraut just needs two ingredients: cabbage and salt. I guess the third thing it needs is time, and that can be a matter of days or weeks depending on the temperature and your own personal preferences.
This week I harvested enough cabbage to make a quart jar of sauerkraut. I already have a couple of jars of kohlrabi kraut (aka sauerrüben) in the frig, plus a jar of kimchi. That should be enough krauts to hold me until the fall cabbages and kohlrabies are ready to harvest, usually in October and November here.
It takes about two pounds (900g) of chopped or grated cabbage to make a quart jar of sauerkraut. I like to use a wide mouth jar, which makes it easier to get the cabbage in and the sauerkraut out of the jar. The jar just needs to be clean, not sterilized like you would for canning. Any pure salt will work, one that doesn’t have added things like iodine or anti-caking ingredients. I use either a sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. I’ve been using around 20g of salt for 900g of cabbage, which is slightly less than 4 tsp.
I use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the cabbage into fine shreds. After it’s all cut up, I mix the salt and cabbage together in a mixing bowl. Sometimes I use a potato masher to pound the cabbage and salt to get the juices going, but this time I used my hands to do the mixing, squeezing the cabbage and working in the salt until it started releasing its juices. It seemed to satisfy some primal urge, to prepare and preserve a vegetable I had grown myself using a technique our ancestors used hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.
I’ll leave the jar on our kitchen counter, with the lid loosely fastened so any fermenting gases can escape. I’ll start tasting the cabbage after about four days, and when it tastes pleasantly tart to me I’ll put in the refrigerator.
For more information about making sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables: