Being from a family with an Austrian background, making our own sauerkraut was a natural part of every fall harvest. Now that I am an adult, my interest in making my own sauerkraut is more then just for the traditional cultural heritage.
Fresh sauerkraut, being a fermented food, is an excellent source of probiotics which are so helpful in aiding the growth of healthy bacteria in your digestive system and lady parts (if you are a lady, that is). Not all sauerkrat is probiotic though. Most store bought and canned sauerkraut has been pasteurized and is no longer “alive” with the good bacterias. So if you want to be safe, make your own. Its super easy and fun. Plus, fresh sauerkraut tastes sooo much better then canned stuff. Its so easy, even my 1 year old can help. I guarantee!
Easy Homemade Sauerkraut
makes about 1 gallon
- 5 lbs shredded cabbage (1-2 heads of cabbage)
- 3 Tbs kosher salt per 5 lbs of cabbage
This is just the basic ratio. You can multiply it as much as you want to make. I usually make it in bulk, using about 20 lbs of cabbage and 3/4 c. kosher salt. I save some for fresh probiotics and can the rest for winter storage. (The canned kraut will not be probiotic).
Prep the cabbage: Cut cabbage in halves or quarters and remove stem. Remove soiled outer leaves. Shred cabbage: using a mandolin or shredding attachment to your food processor is easiest but you can also just be old school and cut into thin strips using a knife.
Add salt to shredded cabbage and allow to sit 10-15 min. until the cabbage has noticeably wilted and softened.
Pank cabbage: Transfer your cabbage into a suitably sized crock or glass jar. Pank cabbage down, which involves pushing caggabe down to try to remove as much space and air bubbles in cabbage as possible. I usually use a plate to help pank. If you are using a jar with a narrow opening, you can try using a ladle.
Ferment Cabbage: Weight cabbage down with a plate and cover lid of container with a towel to keep out dust. You don’t want to seal the cabbage off from the air because you will get better fermentation with air flow through your container. Allow the cabbage to sit for 3-4 weeks, depending on your taste. The longer you let it sit, the more tart it will become. I like mine tart, so I usually let sit for a month.
Refrigerate or can sauerkraut: Taste your fermented kraut to make sure its got the flavor you want. At this point it is done. Remove and discard any brown and discolored kraut at the top of the container. For your fresh probiotic cabbage, just place kraut in a container and chill in your refrigerator. It stays good for a long time.
For more long term storage, you can can any extra kraut. Add a bit of water to your pot of kraut and heat until its almost boiling. Pack into clean hot jars and water process for 15 minutes per quart jar. This process kills your probiotics, but the kraut still tastes delicious!
So to sum up, you just shred cabbage, salt it, set it in a cool place to ferment and you’re done. Easy!