You may not know this about me, but I am a recovering (slowly) picky eater.
As a kid, I was a picky eater. Like, extremely picky. I wouldn't eat any vegetable except raw carrots & tomatoes, steamed broccoli (smothered in cheese sauce), and cucumbers in the form of a pickle. That was it.
When I hit junior high, I took my first Home Economics class. We learned some basic cooking skills and made a few basic recipes. I brought these recipes home and started making them for my family. My Mom had a 4H cookbook that she may have bought from a cousin as a fundraiser. I read that cookbook like a novel! I started experimenting with a few recipes and slowly tried some new ingredients and foods.
This continued on into my adulthood. The best thing about cooking ... I got to choose what ingredients I used. Which meant that I could still avoid those foods that I didn't like!
One of those ingredients I avoided for years?
You guessed it! CABBAGE!
I must have been in my mid-twenties before I ate cabbage in a cabbage salad. And, much to my surprise, I actually liked it! Then I tried cabbage rolls. And fried cabbage with onions. Then cabbage in soups.
But sauerkraut? No way! I had memories of the pungent sauerkraut I'd see people put on their hotdogs ... and secretly avoided trying sauerkraut.
Intrigued by the health benefits of fermented foods, I decided I should give making and eating sauerkraut a try. Luckily, we have awesome farm neighbours, Denis & Andrea of Grey Arrow Farm, who grow the most amazing vegetables! I was able to grab a couple of heads of cabbage from them and get chopping.
I soon realized that making fermented sauerkraut was SO simple! With only two ingredients - cabbage & salt - it couldn't be easier!
After allowing the cabbage to ferment for a week, we dug into the sauerkraut. And were pleasantly surprised at the tantalizing flavour! From that point on, we have a hard time keeping enough sauerkraut in the house! We honestly put that *$%& on everything! From hotdogs to pizza to pasta to a topping in soups, sauerkraut adds a nice little crunch and zip to any meal.
And the health benefits? They are abundant. Just check out this article from Harvard Health: Fermented foods can add depth to your diet - Harvard Health
Well, on to the recipe.
Fermented Sauerkraut Recipe
- 1 to 2 heads of cabbage
- 2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt, non-iodized
Peel off the outside 3 to 4 layers of cabbage from the head. Cut the cabbage into quarters leaving the core and stem of the cabbage to discard. Slice each of the pieces into thinly sliced pieces. Place all sliced cabbage into a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of salt for every pound of cabbage. Using your hands, mix the salt into the cabbage. Allow the cabbage to sit on the counter to allow the salt to pull out some of the juices from the cabbage. Work the cabbage to allow the cabbage juices to expel from the cabbage. Continue to work the cabbage until there are a lot of juices in the bowl.
Using large mason jars (we like 1 litre/quart size), set mason jar into the bowl with the cabbage. This will help it be less messy as you transfer the cabbage. Fill each mason jar, pressing the cabbage down as you fill the jar. Fill the jar to within 1/2 inch of the top, making sure that all the cabbage is covered by liquid.
Approximately 2 lbs of cabbage will fit into a 1 litre jar. Keep pressing the cabbage in the jar until there is liquid all the way to the top of the cabbage.
The lacto-fermenting process is an anaerobic process. This means that it happens "without oxygen" or air. The cabbage must be kept below the liquid to enable an anaerobic environment. Air will lead to mold or spoilage.
Top your cabbage with a glass fermenting weight (see below) or a cabbage leaf with a fermenting spring. This will help hold the cabbage below the liquid. Top with a fermenting lid that allow air to escape (the fermentation process will produce gases). You can use a silicone fermenting lid with a ring, a fermenting lid with vents, or a regular lid. If you use a regular air-tight lid, make sure to "burp" your sauerkraut every day to allow the gases to release, so it doesn't explode!
Set your sauerkraut jars on the counter to ferment. You may want to place a plate under the jar to capture any liquid that may spill out of the jar.
Leave the jars to ferment for anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. The taste changes as the cabbage ferments so you may want to start tasting it at the 5 day mark to see if it suits your tastes. We like the 7 day mark. At this point, remove the fermenting weight (the liquid has likely expanded up above it anyways) and swap to a solid air-tight lid. Transfer to the fridge for storage. Your cabbage will continue to ferment in the fridge, just at a much slower rate.
You can store your sauerkraut in the fridge for 3 to 6 months. But don't worry, you'll love it so much it won't last that long!
Make sure you put the lid back on immediately after use to minimize contamination.
Where do I find fermenting supplies?
You can find fermenting weights, fermenting lids, and mason jars on Amazon.
If you're looking for fermenting supplies, here are some of the ones we recommend (Amazon.ca affiliate links).
Glass fermenting weights:
Wide mouth mason fermenting weights - https://amzn.to/3ilACUz
regular mouth mason fermenting weights - https://amzn.to/3zXZkjB
Silicone fermenting lids:
wide mouth mason silicone lids - https://amzn.to/3up7hNK
regular mouth mason silicone lids - https://amzn.to/39Vou7S
Fermenting lid with spring: Ball fermenting lid with spring (2 pack) - https://amzn.to/2WqIFaG
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