Friday, September 9, 2022

How to Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage in it's simplest form.  However that can be a bit bland and not terribly enjoyable to a lot of people, myself included.  This take on sauerkraut is what I enjoy.  The caraway seed is not for everybody but if you're eating sauerkraut by itself then you've got other problems.

Throw this kraut on sausage, wienerschnitzel or any other form of meat and that is exactly where this recipe shines.  The licorice taste of the caraway seed combined with meat is a truly savory combination that deserves a seat at the finest meat houses.  If the caraway seed isn't your thing then simply don't add it or add some other spice that you think you will like.  What fun would the world be if we all did everything the exact same way and enjoyed the exact same things???  Try something new to you and perhaps you'll find yourself in a whole new world!

Kimchi will always be better than sauerkraut in my heart.  Kimchi makes taste buds salsa dance whereas kraut makes them do the foxtrot, one is clearly more fun than the other but they each have their own place in this world.  The first 6 steps below are actually the exact same steps you take to make kimchi, making it extremely easy to make them both at the exact same time with minimal thinking power needed on your end.  Where are my super efficient pilot folk at?!

What Ya Need:

-Caraway Seed (optional)
-Mason Jar

1. Grow a Cabbage (or buy one from a local farmer that has growing practices that align with what you want to support.  Are you getting sick of me saying that yet?)

Homegrown Cabbage
Homegrown cabbage, straight from the backyard of course

2. Quarter the Cabbage and Remove the Cores

Quartered Cabbage
Quartering and coreing

3. Shred each quarter and fill a large glass bowl with the shreddings.  Once your glass bowl is full, stop shredding your cabbage and continue with these instructions.  You'll have to come back and repeat for another round (or two or three depending on the size of your cabbage).  

Shredded Quarter
Shredded Quarter

4. Once the glass bowl is full, add 1/4 cup of salt.  Massage the salt into the cabbage for 5 minutes, you want the cabbage to get nice and tender.  There is a very noticeable difference after massaging the salt into the cabbage.  The cabbage will start off being very firm and hard to work with your hands, after 5 minutes it will be much softer and will be very maliable with your hands.

Salted Cabbage
Cabbage salted and ready to be massaged

5. Fill the glass bowl with water (yup, with the cabbage in it) and let it sit for 1 hour.

6. Drain the cabbage into a colander (the spaghetti bowl with holes in it), wash off the cabbage and let it sit and drain for about 10 minutes.

Cabbage Draining
Cabbage draining
7. Put the drained cabbage back into the glass bowl.
8. Add caraway seed (1 tsp. is a good starting point).
9. Mix the caraway seed in.
10. Divvy the contents of the glass bowl out into glass jars.

Kimchi in Jars
Kimchi divvied out - It's the exact same for kraut, the end product just looks different.

11. Do not put the actual lid on the glass jars, cover the open jar with a paper towel (or cheesecloth) and secure with a rubber band.  You are letting the jar breath but keeping debris and dirt out.

Paper towel lid
Paper towel lid fastened on the jar.

12. Let the jars sit on a table in your house for 3 to 5 days.  Once a day (more if you'd like), take the paper towel off and push the cabbage down as far as it will go into the jar with a fork.  You're squeezing the cabbage juice out of the cabbage, which is what preserves your sauerkraut.  You want the cabbage juice to be just covering everything in the jar when you press down on it.  If that's not happening, add a little bit of water to the jar.  The cabbage juice is what is preserving the contents of the jar so this is a very important step.

13. After the jars have been sitting for 3 to 5 days, remove the paper towel entirely from the jar and put the actual lid on.  Put the jars in the fridge and you have now made your very own sauerkraut that you can enjoy anytime you would like and you can put on anything and everything!

14. The taste of your kraut will evolve with time so use it often to see if you can notice the taste change.

*Keep in mind I have no idea if these instructions follow health regulations or not and you make it at your own risk.  However I have made this several times and have never gotten sick from it or anything of that nature.  Make it at your own risk but you'll likely be just fine.

Side Hustle Idea: Make and sell sauerkraut (in a way that complies with health regulations in your area) at your local farmers market!

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