Homemade Sauerkraut

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Select a cabbage which is firm, has ivory or green outer leaves, and has leaves that are tightly wrapped. The cabbage should seem heavy for its size. This indicates a high percentage of the weight is nutrient rich water which will become the fermentation brine. Green leaves indicate a high volume of vitamin C and other healthy nutrients for both fermentation and you. As with all foods, freshness is critical.



Prepare the cabbage as described above.

Weigh the prepared cabbage and place it in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; the above amounts are per pound of cabbage. Be sure to multiply amounts based on cabbage weight. The ratio of salt to cabbage is critical. Too little salt will cause spoilage and too much will prevent fermentation.

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the dry ingredients onto the cabbage and mix well using your hands. Repeat this two more times. As the salt is added you will notice that brine will begin to collect as moisture is extracted from the cabbage. This brine is the medium in which the cabbage will ferment. The freshness of the cabbage will determine the amount of brine created.

Allow the cabbage to rest for 10 minutes then mix again. Check the volume of brine and add a little bottled spring water if necessary to ensure that there is enough brine to cover the cabbage once it is packed down.

Make sure that your pickle crock or glass jar is completely clean. Place a layer of cabbage in the crock and use a potato masher to pack it down tight. Repeat this process until all of the cabbage is packed into the crock.

Rinse off the cabbage leaves you saved prior to shredding and press them down on the packed cabbage to form a cover. It is important that the crock or jar not be more than ¾ full and that there is about ¼ inch of brine covering the cabbage. Add a little bottled spring water if necessary.

Wash and rinse the heavy plastic bag. Place the bag on top of the cabbage and fill it with about one inch of water. Make sure the bag creates a water balloon which covers the cabbage completely. Make sure that there is no air trapped between the bag and cabbage. The perfect layering will be cabbage on the bottom, a layer of brine and then the water bag seal. This is critical since any exposure to air during fermentation will cause the sauerkraut to spoil. Add more water to the bag to create a complete seal against the sides of the crock. Close the bag with a twist tie and place a cover on the crock but do not seal the container. Gases given off during fermentation will escape out from under the plastic bag.

Place the crock or jar in a dark, warm (70-78°F) place for three days.

After three days move the crock to a cooler place (68-70°F) for three weeks. It is critical that you do not open the crock or expose the sauerkraut to the air during this time. No peeking!

The sauerkraut fermentation is now complete. I recommend that the finished sauerkraut be used fresh or packed in plastic bags and frozen.