How About JUST Sauerkraut?!

“Just a simple sauerkraut without all the fancy stuff, please”. 
Kickin’ it with Karen: Beyond Sauerkraut 

A colleague of mine asked me if she could buy some sauerkraut from me. How strange. I never thought anyone would want to buy something made in my kitchen. But, she really wants the natural, fermented probiotics that are bioavailable in a quality sauerkraut and the only place she knows where to get it is from Whole Foods (EXPENSIVE) and well… from me.

Probiotics are so important for our gut health. As a reminder from my previous sauerkraut post, “Probiotics are the good bacteria that line the intestines and help break down food and help your body absorb nutrients as well as help regulate and increase energy”. We need probiotics to support our immune system and regulate our metabolism (Axe).

For my colleague, I am glad to oblige. But it is so easy, anybody can do it. There are a thousand and one million hundred gazillion recipes out there in fermentation books, cooking journals, TV shows, YouTube channels and blogs like mine.

My sauerkraut recipe is the base that I use for all of my sauerkrauts: a head of cabbage, some salt, and a 2% salt brine if necessary.

The Equipment:

A large bowl
Food grade gloves (optional)
A sharp knife
A heavy plate that fits in the bowl (optional)
Quart size canning jar
Fermentation lid with air lock (this is what I use)

The Ingredients: (really simple)

  • 1 small head of green or “white” cabbage + 2 large cabbage leaves set aside
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt

Directions:

These directions are the same for all of my sauerkraut recipes. The only difference is if I am adding fruits other vegetables and in this case, we are only using cabbage.

Cut the cabbage in half and slice out the core. Cut each half in into a quarter. Slice each quarter as thinly as possible; it should look shredded.

Put the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt. With your hands, mix the cabbage around so that the salt is evenly distributed. The cabbage will begin releasing it’s juice. Let the cabbage continue to release juice for about 20 minutes. During this process, the cabbage is actually making its own brine. If you wish to help this process along, place a heavy plate on top of the cabbage and salt mix to help force the water out of the vegetables.

After 20 minutes, start working the cabbage with your hands. . I work the cabbage like I am kneading dough and by grabbing fistfuls and squeezing hard enough that the water runs out of the cabbage into the bowl. When you notice about a 1/2 cup or more of liquid at the bottom of the bowl, stop squeezing.

Test the Saltiness:

Is it salty to your liking? If not add more salt until it tastes good in its raw state. If it tastes good raw, it will taste better as it ferments.

Pack Cabbage into the Jar:

As you pack the cabbage, use a food tamper to continue forcing the it to release its water. I use a food tamper (like this one). But any heavy oblong object should do. Keep pounding the mixture into the jar until there is no more in your bowl. Pound until the “brine” rises above the cabbage. When the brine is above the cabbage, top it off with the brine from the bottom of the bowl. All of the cabbage should be submerged below the brine.

Use the Large Cabbage Leaves for the Top:

As with all of my krauts, to keep the vegetables below the brine, fold up the large cabbage leaves that you saved from the outer layers of the cabbage. Press them over the top of the ferment and push them below the brine. It is important that you make sure that the ferment is submerged at all times or the kraut may develop some kahm yeast or some sort of mold. Kahm yeast is harmless but I have read that it can add an off flavor to the ferment. I have never had this happen to me because as soon as I see it, I quickly skim it off the top along with any vegetables that may have been affected. Just make sure the vegetables are submerged in the brine and go about your business. However, if you think you have developed MOLD THROW IT OUT AND START OVER. Of course all of this can be prevented by making sure the ferment is submerged in the brine.

Use an Airlock to Prevent Exposure to Oxygen and to Release CO2.

Screw your fermentation lid and place the lock on top. The airlock will prevent oxygen from getting to the ferment and the fermentation produces CO2 that pushes any remaining oxygen in the jar up and through the airlock. The airlock also prevents your jar from exploding  That’s it! Let it sit in a dark cool space for 3 or more weeks. Starting on day 2 (depending on the climate you live in) you should start to see some bubbles and in 3-4 days, you should see real active fermentation. YAY! It’s you will have your kraut soon enough. You can start tasting it in a week or so. The longer it sits the more the flavors will bloom. It will get more sour, but also more floral. 

Eat It!

When the sauerkraut reaches the desired sourness and crunch, put a regular lid on it, put it in the refrigerator.  Usually for me, this is at the 3 to 4 week mark. Eat as you would any sauerkraut, but know that the flavors will continue to blossom even in the cold environment. It will just get better and better! Enjoy as a side dish or on time of your favorite hotdog, sausage, or brat!

I hope you find this recipe interesting and tasty. Please visit, subscribe and like my YouTube channel “Beyond Sauerkraut: Let’s Make Somethin’ ” to find more things I’ve made.

I’d like to grow my readership. If you enjoyed this blog post, add a comment and share it with a friend. 😀

+These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This recipe is not intended treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Sources:

Axe. “How to Hack Your Immune System.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe Food Is Medicine, draxe.com/how-to-hack-your-immune-system/.

Krajmalnik-Brown, Rosa, et al. “Effects of Gut Microbes on Nutrient Absorption and Energy  Regulation.” Nutritional Clinical Practice, 21 Feb. 2012. NCBI, doi:10.1177/0884533611436116.

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