How to make naturally fermented sauerkraut, without vinegar

natural sauerkraut

Flavorful, crunchy home-made sauerkraut is easy to make at home.

Cool weather is best for putting up sauerkraut, so now is the time to chop up some cabbage and go for it. Like our Middle-Eastern preserved lemons, sauerkraut ferments in brine. According to fermentation guru Sandor Katz, whose book we reviewed here, brined foods boost immunities and may even have anti-carcinogenic properties.

We claim that fermented foods can heal your gut. And if you like to eat sauerkraut anyway, you’ll enjoy the fresh, un-canned taste and crunchy texture of the jar you put up yourself. Sauerkraut is easy to make and takes hardly any time.

Home-made sauerkraut

Large bowl

1-gallon jar or crock

Jar with 1 liter/ 1 quart capacity

Something to weigh the sauerkraut down while it’s fermenting: a plate that fits inside your jar or a Ziploc bag filled with water

Clean kitchen towel

Ingredients you’ll need to make sauerkraut

2 kg. – 5 lb. fresh cabbage, white, red, or a mixture

3 tablespoons salt – sea salt is healthiest, but plain table salt will do.

Cut the cabbages in halves and cut the cores out.

Method for making sauerkraut

Chop the cabbage finely, scooping it into the bowl as you chop. Sprinkle salt in between the layers.

When all the cabbage is chopped and salted, mix it well and pack it into the 1-gallon jar. Push it down hard, using a wooden spoon, potato masher or your clean fist.

Place a clean plate or weight inside the jar to keep the cabbage tightly packed.

Cover with the kitchen towel.

The cabbage will begin to release juice almost immediately, but it takes about a day for enough liquid to form to cover the vegetable. You will need to press it down again every so often to encourage the liquid to release. If the cabbage isn’t covered with brine by the next day, make a simple cold brine of 1 cup water/1 tablespoon salt and add it to the jar.

Check the jar every day and push the cabbage down if needed. It will reduce in volume. Once you’re sure that it will fit , repack it into your smaller jar. As with all fermenting things, the less contact with air, the less chance of spoilage.

Start tasting after a week’s fermentation, and serve whenever you feel that the taste is right. Refrigerate. Pack the cabbage back down every time you remove some, and make sure that the object weighing it down is clean. Replace brine if needed.

That’s it! Enjoy!

Serving suggestion: Boil unpeeled potatoes and heat the sauerkraut. Place both, hot, in the same bowl and drizzle melted butter over all. A real rustic treat.

Recipes for making more delicious pickled and sour stuff :

Home-Pickled Olives

Pickled Peppers

Vinegared Cucumber Salad

Sweet and Tangy Cucumber Chips

Recipe adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Photo of sauerkraut by Miriam Kresh

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