I don’t own a large fermentation crock, so I make my sauerkraut in small batches in mason jars.
It does take a bit more work to do it this way because you have to make and fill several small jars rather than just packing it into one large fermentation crock or jar.
But I have a large number of wide-mouthed mason jars, so this method works well for me.
I posted about my vegetable ferments that I made a while ago, and sauerkraut was part of this batch.
I made a batch with red cabbage and another batch with green/white cabbage. You could use either or even mix the two.
I don’t add any spices to my kraut, but if you are not AIP and like the flavour, you could add some caraway or fennel seeds to provide a slight aniseed flavour.
Sauerkraut is very good for you – it has been shown that a small amount of sauerkraut will provide you with far more healthy probiotic bacteria than even some of the very high quality probiotic supplements.
This makes it a very valued addition to any diet as far as I am concerned.
But in addition to it’s probiotic content, sauerkraut is a good source of vitamins A and C, and has all the health benefits of the other cruciferous vegetables.
It is also very tasty – tangy and slightly salty.
Simple Small Batch Sauerkraut
makes 1 quart sized mason jar
- ½ head of cabbage (you could double up the recipe and use the entire head if you prefer). Either red cabbage or white, or a mixture of the two – it really does not matter.
- 2 tbsp sea salt
Take your cabbage and remove the core and some of the outside leaves. Reserve one or two leaves.
Now shred the cabbage finely – I like to do this in my food processor to save time, but you could use a knife.
Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt evenly over the surface.
Now you need to pound the heck out of the cabbage – I use the end of my rolling pin, but you could use a meat pounder or even your fists. What you need to do is to break down some of the structure of the cabbage and make it release it’s liquid as this forms the brine that will preserve your kraut.
Pounding the cabbage can take upwards of 10 minutes, and you want it to be really juicy when you squeeze it.
After this, transfer the cabbage to a wide mouthed mason jar, packing it down well with your fists.
If you have pounded it enough, you should see the brine starting to rise up over the surface to cover the cabbage. If not enough brine rises up, no worries, just mix up a little more brine (2 tbsp salt in 1 quart of water) and pour that over the surface.
Now take the reserved cabbage leaves and lay them on the surface of the cabbage, pushing them underneath the brine. These will stop lots of little bits of cabbage from rising to the surface, which will help prevent mold forming.
After this, I like to weight the cabbage leaves down – I use the very small jelly-sized mason jars as they fit perfectly inside a wide-mouthed mason jar. I fill them up with a little brine to help hold them down and prevent them from floating.
And finally, screw the lid on the mason jar.
Leave your sauerkraut to ferment for 2-3 weeks, opening the jar to release any gas every day. I like to taste it towards the end of the fermentation period at this point as well.
The sauerkraut is ready when it tastes good to you. In cold weather it may take longer to ferment than it will in the summer.
If you don’t think it is ready, reseal and leave it for a few more days. Some people like to ferment their kraut for several weeks (6-8), but I prefer it “younger”.
Once you think it is ready, transfer it to the fridge as this will slow down the fermentation process. Now it will keep for months.
If you make sure that your cabbage is well submerged under the brine, you should have very few problems with spoilage or mold formation – but in the unlikely event that it does mold, throw the whole lot out. Mold produces toxins that can spread rapidly throughout the entire jar of sauerkraut, and you cannot just scrape it off the surface.
When I make red cabbage sauerkraut, it looks like this:
And the green cabbage sauerkraut looks like this:
Because this is a live culture, I don’t really recommend that you cook your sauerkraut – it will be tasty if cooked, but it won’t contain any of the probiotic bacteria as they are killed by high temperatures.
I most often eat my sauerkraut raw – either with sausage patties for breakfast:
Or with other meats/fish/eggs (this is pulled pork)
I also sometimes add it to coleslaw to make a lacto-fermented slaw.