Sunday, March 4, 2012

Make Your Own Sauerkraut

Cabbage is very easy to grow in my garden. Cabbage likes cool weather and part shade, which is what I have in my garden. So at the end of the summer I usually have several heads of cabbage. I like eating cabbage in soups, salads, and cole slaw, but after a while you want something different. I've always loved sour foods like pickles, capers, olives and sauerkraut. So I decided to make my own sauerkraut. This recipe is very simple and only contains 2 ingredients: cabbage and salt. You can flavor your sauerkraut with other veggies (like carrots, peppers, etc.) and spices if you like, but that's optional.

Raw Fermented Sauerkraut
3-4 heads of cabbage (any kind works) shredded
2 T salt
2 glass quart canning jars with lids

Shred or cut your cabbage into fairly small shreds. Take a good handful of shredded cabbage and put that into one of your canning jars. Sprinkle the cabbage in the jar with a little bit of salt (keep in mind that you are only using 1 Tablespoon of salt for the whole quart jar of sauerkraut). With a wooden spoon mash the cabbage down over and over until it starts releasing water. Add another good handful of shredded cabbage into the jar and sprinkle with a little more salt. Again, take your wooden spoon and mash it around and pack it down so that you start to have a layer of water on the top of your cabbage. Keep this up until you've filled the entire jar with cabbage and salt. Make sure you have a layer of released water at the top of the jar. If there isn't a good layer of water on top, take that wooden spoon and mash the cabbage some more until you have enough. This recipe should fill 2 quart jars of saurkraut.

Put the lids on your jars but don't tighten them completely. Sit the jars on a kitchen towel or on a stack of newspaper (you'll see why later) and put them in a spot (do not refrigerate yet) where they can be undisturbed for about a week.  After a couple of days of sitting on your counter you'll notice that the jars are starting to ooze and liquid is squeezing out from under the lid. After about 5-7 days you'll notice the jars start to smell sour. This is when your sauerkraut is ready! You can eat it right away or refrigerate for months. (I still have some 6 month old jars in my fridge!)

NOTE: This is not shelf stable, so you will HAVE to refrigerate it if you want it to stay good.

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