96 oz of fresh, organic sauerkraut for $6, versus a 16 oz container for $6. The choice is yours!
Sauerkraut is a delicious, probiotic filled superfood. This article from Natural News talks about the mighty Kraut as something like the Godfather of fermented foods, used by sailors, packed with vitamins, excellent for Vegans. Side note, my embedded spell checker recognizes “antibiotic” as a word but not “probiotic.” If that just doesn’t show you what’s wrong with the world I don’t know what will. 😉
Here are the start to finish pictures of this project on our Facebook page. We started on June 5th and were ready to serve on July 3rd. We used three large heads of cabbage, about $2 each, and the final product was three, 32 oz jars of kraut. We saved $30, and didn’t create any trash, except the cabbage leaves that went into the compost. We make this regularly now – always have a crock going.
Some notes before you start:
Only use fresh, organic cabbage. The cabbage has all the good bacteria for fermenting already on it. Do not use non-organics! You don’t need fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, and any other “ides” in your diet, and fresh, organic cabbage should give you the highest population of beneficial bacteria that does the actual fermenting. Salt is used to inhibit the growth of the bad bacteria. Salt with iodine inhibits bacterial growth, so use the types of salt listed in the recipe.
Some recipes show you how to do “low salt” but I’ve never tried that. If you use fresh cabbage you will probably not need to add any water. The salt will suck the water out of the cabbage to make the brine. If the cabbage is not covered over with brine after a day, add some. About a teaspoon of salt per cup of water.
Some sites that say to add starter culture are usually selling starter culture. I’ve never done this, but I don’t know why you’d need to if you use organic cabbage.
You will need:
- A fermenting jar or crock
- The crock system normally comes with stones to hold down the veggies – you may need to supplement this with a plate, jar of water, etc
- Natural salt – sea salt, kosher salt, or pickling salt, about 3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of cabbage. For us this was about 3 large heads.
- Cabbage – 3 heads is about perfect for our crock
- Jars to store finished product. Mayonnaise jars are typically 32 oz.
- Shred the cabbage. You can use a Mandolin slicer or a knife. I use a knife and prefer large cut, chunky kraut. The thickness will impact the fermenting time.
- Put the cabbage into your crock and salt each layer as you put it in. Smash it down and pack it with your fist. Continue adding layers and salt until it’s all in the container.
- Weigh it down with the stones, plate, and optionally the jar of water. You want to cabbage to remain submerged during fermenting.
- Wait. Our last batch took about a month. Since it’s just salty cabbage you can taste test it the whole time and figure out when it has the right sourness and crispy texture for your taste buds.
What I’m doing differently now.
- I weigh down the crock stones with a ceramic dish and a jar of water. The jar with the metal lid started to corrode (from the acidity of the air?) – I will use a plastic lid next time, since the jar doesn’t touch the food. You can see this in the FB pics.
- I used to use a cup of ‘starter juice’ from the last batch, I guess to jump-start the new batch and ferment faster. The problem is that I ended up with a lot of Kahm yeast to scrape off. With this batch from scratch, no yeast to remove at all. If you get Kahm, you literally just scrape it off. There are pics on google images and on our Facebook cooking album.
- Not trying to ferment any other vegetables in the same batch. We’ve had mixed success doing this, everything from sloggy cucumbers to rock hard beets. Mixing things also changed the flavor of the kraut in a way that I didn’t like. Solution? We bought a second fermenting jar that we’ll use for other stuff. I still add onions, pepper and garlic, just for taste.