Introduction: How to Make Traditional Sauerkraut
This is my sauerkraut recipe, complete with full-colour, time-lapse photography (wow!).
I decided to put this together because the excellent book Nourishing Traditions had a more complicated version, which is not entirely necessary and I wanted to find the simplest way of making this healthy alternative to coleslaw. So after some research and experimentation, here is the basic method. It turns out that it is really easy and requires the minimum of equipment and ingredients: a kitchen knife, chopping board, mixing bowl and 'basher' cabbage and salt, and that's it!
It's uniquely flavoured and naturally sours without any vinegar being added.
Step 1: Get the Equipment Together (plus a Cabbage!)
1 kitchen knife
1 chopping board
1 mixing bowl
1 rolling pin or other suitable 'basher'
As for ingredients, it's just cabbage (any kind will do) and...
Salt (best use good quality sea salt) - about a tablespoon or two per cabbage, more if the weather is particulalrly hot, and that's it!
Step 2: Shred the Cabbage
Chop it any size you like. Traditionally I think it's usually quite fine, but I can't be bothered with that! Use any kind of cabbage - I like these red (purple) ones, and sometimes mixing them with white ones to get a pretty pink colour.
Step 3: Use It All!
Don't be shy - put it all in. If you want to. If you'd rather leave out the heart, that's fine too. Inset is the only part of the cabbage I threw out.
Step 4: Bash!
Once you've chopped the cabbage, put it in the mixing bowl, I find that it's easier to chop a bit, then put it in the bowl and sprinkle with the salt as I go. The salt is there largely to prevent rotting over the first two to four days while the lactobacilli get going. It also helps to draw the juice from the cabbage. Then bash. About ten minutes is fine, depending on how juicy your cabbage is.
Step 5: Admire Your Juicy Pre-kraut
When finished it should look something like this. I've circled a nice bit of moisture - all from the cabbage.
Step 6: Jar It Up
Now you put it in the jar and press down well. Again, it's good to do a bit at a time.
Step 7: Squishing As You Go
Ideally the liquid should be at about the same level as the cabbage, but don't worry too much. If really necessary, you can add some salt water to top it up. I find that a bit more compacting into the jar usually does the job. Oh, and do leave a gap as the level rises during fermentation (see below).
Step 8: Wait...
The promised time-lapse photography - genuine, unretouched pictures of the batch I made for this instructable over the first 8 days of fermentation. As you will notice, the level rises quite dramatically at first.
All in all, it takes a little effort and some patience waiting for the lactobacilli to do their work, but it is an extremely beneficial food and cheap to boot. Enjoy!
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