Introduction: How to Make Sauerkraut
Enjoy the flavor and probiotics of homemade fermented sauerkraut.
Step 1: Items Needed
Head of cabbage
Large stainless steel bowl
Fine ground sea salt
Vessel with air lock
Step 2: Cutting and Coring the Cabbage
Peel the outer layer of leaves from the cabbage, wash and set aside.
Turn the cabbage, core end up and cut in half. Then do the same for the halves (you will have four quarters).
Next cut the core from each quarter. Turn the core down to the cutting board and slice just the core off.
Step 3: Shredding the Cabbage
I have done this two ways, the easiest and more consistent is with the mandolin. However if you don't have a mandolin you can use a knife.
Using a mandolin, set the blade to the desired size (I use a small to medium cut). Start shaving your cabbage from an edge to get a more desired shred.
I use a piece of parchment paper to catch the cabbage (it makes for less clean-up and easier to put in the bowl later for weighing).
Please be careful when cutting. The last thing you want are cut up fingers.
Step 4: Weighing the Cabbage
Getting the total weight of the cabbage to figure out the amount of salt needed.
Turn on the scale and tare/zero the weight with the large bowl on it. Then add the cabbage to get the weight (remember to set the scale to read in grams).
In this case my cabbage weighed in at 1.038 kg.
Next multiply the weight of the cabbage by 2%.
Convert kg to g, 1.039 kg is 1000 grams.
My salt amount is 20 g.
Step 5: Working the Cabbage
The point is to break down the fibers of the cabbage.
Add a small amount of salt to the cabbage in the bowl. There is no need to work it to much as it will take a beating while filling the vessel.
I work the cabbage with the handle of my tongs. I am still looking for the perfect tool for this, and will probably make myself an oak dowel for this part.
Step 6: Filling the Vessel
Using tongs to avoid handling the cabbage with my hands and introducing unwanted bacteria into the vessel (gloves could be worn, I just don't).
Fill the vessel a bit and add some salt. Using the handle of my tongs I pack the cabbage into the vessel.
Repeat this step until you have reached the turn to the neck of the vessel or about 90% full about 1 inch from the top.
During this step any air trapped in the cabbage should find its way out. The head space is needed for expansion during fermentation.
Step 7: Preparing and Closing the Vessel
Using the outer leaves of the cabbage saved and washed in step one. Cut them into workable sizes to cover the cabbage in the vessel. The idea is the leaves will help hold the cabbage under the liquid during fermentation. You will want about a three leaf layer on top. At this point you will need a heavy object to help hold the cabbage down under the liquid. I use a glass weight I got with my vessel. You could use a well washed rock or something of that sort. Give a few good pushes to get the liquid to come up and cover everything.
Install the gasket to the vessel, clean-up the edges then latch it shut.
Install the air lock and add water to the fill line (the air lock acts as a one way valve letting out any built up gas and keeping out any oxygen).
Step 8: Waiting
The final step before you can try your sauerkraut is to wait and wait and wait.
Find a cool dark place to set your vessel (65-70 deg.).
Fermentation will start and your cabbage will start to sour. Six to twelve weeks, the flavor profile will change as it ages. You can test your batches to find what is right for you.
I use a box set in a cool corner of my dining room.
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