Introduction: [Collegiate Meals] How to Make Sauerkraut

Picture of [Collegiate Meals] How to Make Sauerkraut

Did you know that making sour kraut during world war II was considered patriotic in the United States? Because a great deal of our food was going to feed the war machine, preserving cheaply/easily home grown cabbage with salt was just one little extra boost. And because you don't need a heat source, you can do all of this in your dorm room!

"I Can, because I Can"

In this recipe I'm using primarily red cabbage and am adding 1 carrot, finely diced.

Step 1: Holy Salt Batman!

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Here's what you need

A food safe Bucket
A Plate
Something weighty/easily cleaned (2L bottles work great when filled with water).

For every 5 pounds of cabbage - you'll need about 2.5-3 Tablespoons of salt.

Your plate should fit snugly inside your bucket

Step 2: Chop

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Finely Chop your cabbage

Step 3: Bucket Time

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Sterilize your bucket by washing with hot water and bleach - be sure to rinse away any residue bleach. Wash your hands/arms.

Start by sprinkling some salt in the bottom of the bucket.

Next add a layer of cabbage.

Sprinkle more salt

Repeat until you've all all of your cabbage.

Mix cabbage and salt together well.

Step 4: Pack Cabbage

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Start pushing your cabbage down to the bottom of your bucket. Packing tightly. Some punching works well too. The idea to to pack the cabbage as tightly and as even as possible so that the water level stays above the level of the cabbage.

Place your cleaned plate on top off your cabbage - then place your cleaned water bottles on top of the plate. I'm using a pot full of bricks as my weight as there's no 2L soda bottles to be had for me (I'm back to my limited soda drinking ways).

Finally, over the top of the bucket with a towel (to prevent bugs/dust) and wrap a bit of cord around the outside lip (to keep bugs from crawling under).

Step 5: Maintenence

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Every day, remove your weights and plate and clean them with hot soapy water.

Should you see a scum build up on the surface of your kraut - fear not. Simply skim away as much as possible. This is simple an interaction between the organisms fermenting your cabbage and air.

If after the first day the water level does not rise above the cabbage - add a saltwater brine to help it out. About a half a tablespoon per two cups of water is more than enough.

After about 4 days or so, depending on temperature, you can begin to eat your kraut. Scoop some into a jar and keep in the refrigerator while the rest of the kraut continues to age. Just be sure to repack to ensure everything is below the water line.

Step 6: Enjoy

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Sour Kraut is a very health food. As it hasn't been cooked, it still contains all the nutrients it started off with. Sour Kraut is actually considered a raw vegetable and is great for your digestive system. The juice is drinkable (and quite tasty).


TheDanzel (author)2009-02-10

I am german and I can say you: This is no Sauerkraut!!! You have to use white cabbage!

SaveOurSkills (author)TheDanzel2011-02-10

i've had red kraut in germany

trebuchet03 (author)TheDanzel2009-02-10

Luckily, Germany isn't the only place where Sauerkraut is and has been made for ages ;) But, in any case... It ferments just the same, it's used just the same - it's from the same family of plant.... It's sour, it's cabbage - Sauerkraut ;)

TheDanzel (author)trebuchet032009-06-20

I agree! But it has a german name =D ;-)

To my unrefined palate, cabbage is cabbage. But red cabbage also has the advantage of a built-in pH indicator.

That means you should totally make two batches, of each color.... Then do a blind taste test with a palate cleanser between samples. 6 samples (3 of each type) in random order might be enough to show a pattern :) Then, of course, document in a project :D

If only making tasty food were that simple.

The problem with a randomized blind taste test is that what you think you are eating and what the food looks like have as much effect on the enjoyment of food as the taste, smell, texture, and temperature.

What you suggest does sound like a good school science project, though.

That's why you do it, literally, blind. Base the food on smell, taste and texture. Considering it's a matter of palate, and not vision - you'll have to come up with a deduction based on those three senses. If you can blindly separate the two, and label on as better (while blind), that'd be pretty awesome :) And yes, a fairly awesome science project :)

TheDanzel (author)trebuchet032009-06-20

Ok sry - I just wanted to say that the original Sauerkraut (yes it's a german name) is made out of white cabbage or has a white color!

I did not want to break a discussion from the fence (can I say so? )

But food is for eating. Mostly by people who can see. A blind taste test is like testing the effectiveness of a drug only in people who consume no alcohol or other medications. It might be a helpful starting point, but is not going to get you market approval.

but is not going to get you market approval.

The reason I suggested was not for market approval.... I just think it would make an awesome project while testing your claim:
To my unrefined palate, cabbage is cabbage.

Arguably, food is for eating - that's for sure... But like you said, what it looks like can and will change the result. Since you never claimed to not like one or the other (just that you can't tell the difference), how it looks isn't making one think one is "icky" - just that it's the same :) And sameness is what we're trying to test :)

charliemor3 (author)2008-12-20

You can use/make a device beer makers use called a water lock; or, something to that effect. It's kind of like the p-trap connected to sinks, tubs and other plumbing related items; which is used in those instances to prevent sewer gases from entering your living space. However, a smaller device would serve the same purpose too allow the co2 to escape as it builds up a little pressure. Also, it will prevent cross contamination of unwanted biodiversity within your kraut. Good fortune to you! P.S. If you like to experiment with food, try adding the whey from live culture yogurt, etc. It will give you far more in the way of healthy bacteria which will aid your digestion. In other words, the food you eat will do more for you when you eat healthy.

brabantia (author)2008-10-29

I found an old crock but now I'm worried the glazing might be Led - based. Does anybody know how one can tell if old crockery is food-safe?

abnor (author)2008-06-23

wait.. either i read it wrong, or you started to mention water being in the bucket with no warning. like, i read it all, but all i read was you adding salt and cabbage to a buck, no name of water or your other ingredients. or is your cabbage liquidizing?! O.O

trebuchet03 (author)abnor2008-06-23

Cabbage has a lot of water in it - the salt draws it out ;)

From step 5,
If after the first day the water level does not rise above the cabbage - add a saltwater brine to help it out. About a half a tablespoon per two cups of water is more than enough.

Water is really a misnomer - it's technically a brine - but we don't need to be English scholars every day (except for spelling and grammar, of course) :)

abnor (author)trebuchet032008-06-25

ooooh. thank you for your wisdom :D i'm challenged when it comes to foods, or kitchens, or both

TheStrangeAngel (author)2008-06-20

I live in the tropics, so the 'put it somewhere cool' part could be a problem.... would the dairy section of the fridge work?

spocky83 (author)2008-03-12

Sounds interesting... but my Bavarian half kinda has some objections (US-German/Bavarian halfbreed living in Germany for 25 years - guess that qualifies). Basically, the best thing to use would be a stoneware fermenter (anything that seals the Sauerkraut off from the air and allows the CO2 to get out without busting the whole thing... maybe your local hardware store can help you), but I'd suppose they're a little hard to get a hold of and probably not really cheap... just keeps your Sauerkraut from going bad while fermenting and you can store it for months in a cool place. Here comes the recipe: Use white cabbage (just more authentic) ... as much as you want. Cut it up into small bits (coarse cheese grater does the trick, some food processors may as well). Add a tablespoon of salt, mixed with some caraway (depends on how much you like that stuff) and 5-10 (again... de gustibus non est disputandum) juniper berries to every layer of cabbage in your fermenter. Work and pound the cabbage/salt/spices mixture as hard as you can (using your feet isn't the worst idea at all!). It will get nice and mushy as the salt drains the water from the cabbage. Add a couple of small slices of sour apple. Repeat until you're out of cabbage. Cover up your to be Sauerkraut with a couple of leafs of cabbage, put something heavy on it (bricks, bottles, etc), put a lid on it and let it sit at room temperature for two or three days until the fermenting process gets started, then move to a cooler place (cellar) and let it sit for a couple of weeks. eat it raw, cooked (the longer you cook it, the better it gets) or however you desire. note: Sauerkraut is SOUR... it is not at all sweet or anything, it has a very intense flavor and it will give you gas.

Grey_Wolfe (author)spocky832008-05-17

Yeay, cabbage farts. lol

lemonie (author)2007-08-30

Mmmm. L

Tobita (author)lemonie2008-03-20

Amen i love it.

stasterisk (author)2008-02-28

This stuff is too good. My mom just sent me 24 pounds of 'kraut. You know, I couldn't find your instructable, except for the link in Tim's, and I realized you've spelled it "sour kraut" instead. Maybe changing the title and more people will find your instructable?

trebuchet03 (author)stasterisk2008-02-28

That's a good point - edited!

pharoah (author)2007-10-28

Victory Cabbage!

capricorn (author)2007-09-01

That is soo cool. My German genes are already mouth watering alltogether.... It will be an interesting winter :)

dansch (author)2007-08-31

This is a great idea, though I must admit I've never had sauerkraut uncooked and made from red cabbage. My dad makes huge batches in big crocks every winter, but I've been wanting to try some in my apartment. He usually cooks it up and adds some sliced bacon for flavor. Also, I believe he adds a very small amount of sugar to it before the fermentation. It probably is no where near as healthy as yours, but it sure is good! (author)2007-08-30

SaurKraut is delicious. My mom used to make it but I think she cooked it. Doesn't that make your dorm room smell terrible?

trebuchet03 (author)teqsun.com2007-08-30

I haven't had any problems with smell whatsoever. Perhaps because I'm using 5 pounds of red cabbage and 2 pounds of green? Not sure. There is a pungent smell (a few wafts really) when I opened the bucket on the second and third day - but that's no longer there....

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Bio: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.
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