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
- Quart Mason Jar with lid
- Pickle Pipe
- Pickle Pebbles Glass Fermentation Weights
(optional but helpful)
- Pickle Packer Tamper (optional but helpful)
- 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.