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Lately I've been trying to work more fermented foods into my diet. Not only because I hear they are good for you, but also because I love the taste of many of them, in particular, sauerkraut.

I've always wanted to learn how to make my own, but it sounded like a pain requiring special crocks, jars, valves or other some such equipment. Recently, I discovered Pickle Pipes from Masontops. Pickle Pipes are a nifty little silicon one-way waterless valve that fits on a mason jar and enables one to make things like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi relatively pain-free.

Also check out my second Pickle Pipe Instructable - Easy Fermented Pickles With a Pickle Pipe

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lbs Head of Green Cabbage
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Kosher Salt

Step 1: Cut and Salt Cabbage

Cutting cabbage for sauerkraut is an art form unto itself, and one which I am not very well-practiced at. I used a mandolin and followed the tips on this website. While I got some relatively thin strands for the most part, I can see that it is going to take some practice to get perfect "threads" for sauerkraut. Have no fear, though, the sauerkraut still turned out incredible, especially compared to store bought.

Once you have your whole head of cabbage sliced into strands, add the salt and start mixing by hand. As you can see from the photos, the cabbage will start to release moisture and shrink in size. Keep working it for 5-10 minutes until the cabbage is soft and pliable. At this point you can leave it sit for 1-2 hours while it starts to create it's own brine or continue to the next step. Letting it sit will make the next step a little easier.

Step 2: Jar, Tamp, and Weight

Add the cabbage/salt mixture to a clean and sanitized mason jar and tamp it down with a tamper or other implement. This will help the cabbage to release it's own brine. There is no need to pound it, a simple massaging and tamping motion works well. Add some weight on top, and seal the lid with the Pickle Pipe in place of the center metal piece as shown in the photo.

Step 3: Check and Tamp

Every few hours check the sauerkraut and tamp it back down. Do this for the first 24 hours. If at the end of the first 24 hours, the sauerkraut is not below the water level as shown, add a weak brine of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup water and raise the level of the liquid. After this, the sauerkraut should be stored in a cool and dark place for 3 days to 2 weeks.

Step 4: Taste and Enjoy!

Because the quantity of sauerkraut is so low, it will ferment quickly, so I recommend tasting it after 3 days to check the softness and flavor. I have noticed that after about 7-14 days it is thoroughly soft and incredible tasting, but let your own preference be your guide.

Enjoy!

<p>I did not push/tamp it down for the first 24 hrs. as I had room (brine above the cabbage and pickle pebble). Is that OK?</p><p>Also, tasting it after 3 days by opening the lid....will this make too much oxygen into the container if you decide you want it more fermented?</p>
<p>As long as the contents are submerged, I think not tamping shouldn't cause an issue. The purpose of the tamping is two-fold, get as much stuff under the top of the brine, and release trapped air bubbles.</p><p>As for testing, I've never tried that, and I'm not sure what the effect of allowing in that air would be.<br></p>
And pickle pebbles. I thought about cutting the bottom off a bottle and might try that if I new more. But for starters this will do.
<p>I thought about using a small plastic bag filled with water and that would weigh it down. What do you think? I'm sure it would work.</p>
<p>I have heard of people doing that, but I had two concerns when considering it. First, there is no way to properly sterilize a plastic bag. Second, not all plastic bags are BPA-free, etc...so I don't know what the bag might introduce into my kraut.</p>
<p>I would stay away from glass bottles. They can chip easily and then you would have to toss toss the lot. You often have to press down with a lot of pressure and bumping the sides of the jar, not worth the risk. I've had success with cutting the bottom off a thick stoneware mug (not as chippy as bottle glass) or even a nice granite rock. But, what I like best is an old teapot lid. It usually has a nob on top to push against the lid, to keep the cabbage submerged and they usually have a hole on top that allows gasses to escape from under the tea pot lid.</p><p>Ideally your mug bottom should be slightly too big for the jar mouth, you can cut it in half and insert one half at a time, and tuck them under the shoulder of the jar, to keep the cabbage down and it won't be pushed up to the top by the fermenting cabbage.</p>
<p>I have some cut granite blocks I use for pressing tofu and gravlox as well as a granite mortar...it is definitely a useful and overlooked material in the kitchen.</p>
<p>Yes, very handy. I use found rocks from my travels. Beach rocks work well, they are nice and rounded. One nice big one, or 3 or 4 smaller.</p><p>If you use found rocks and you are not sure they are granite, make sure to test soak them in vinegar for a day or so. I found out the hard way that some rocks will dissolve in acid. Not the sort of minerals you want in your kraut. </p>
<p>I got mine by asking for scrap granite (from countertops) at Lowe's.</p>
<p>I can't wait to hear how it turns out! :)</p>
do you leave the weights in the jar?
<p>Yes, I did. I also got a tip this week that if you put a cabbage leaf cut to the size of the jar under the weights, they work better. </p>
I ordered my pickle pipes.

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Bio: I'm a 45 year old Systems Architect living in the Midwestern United States. After travelling the world for 20 years as a consulting architect ... More »
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