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Three Methods for Making Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is probably the most well-known lacto-fermented vegetable. Like any traditionally homemade food, sauerkraut is made in a variety of ways, and each method can be quite different. However, there are a few basics to remember:

Tips for Making Good Sauerkraut:

  1. Use fresh cabbage. The better your ingredients, the better the finished product will be. 
  2. Use at least some salt. Salt is a traditional ingredient in sauerkraut because it increases shelf life, texture, and flavor. The amount of salt used can vary according to personal taste preference. 
  3. Create an anaerobic environment, an absolute essential in the sauerkraut-making process. The cabbage must be completely submerged underneath a brine in order for the lactic acid bacteria to proliferate.
  4. Give it time. You can ferment sauerkraut for only a few days before moving to cold storage, but giving sauerkraut a lower temperature and longer fermentation time can develop the flavor and texture a little better.


Methods for making Sauerkraut:

Pounding and Kneading

Thinly slice cabbage, salt it, then pound it with a tool such as the Cabbage Crusher for about 10 minutes, or until enough juice is released to form a brine and completely cover the cabbage. Move the cabbage and juice to fermentation containers, weight the cabbage down to keep it below the brine. Cover with tight-fitting lids, airlock lids, or a tight-weave cloth, secured with a rubber band. 

Weighting and Pressing

Place shredded cabbage and salt in a large fermentation crock or bowl. Instead of pounding, weigh the cabbage down with heavy bowls or stones. Press on the weights regularly to draw the natural juices out of the cabbage and submerge the cabbage slowly in the brine.  After a couple of days, with continued pressing, the cabbage will have accumulated a fair amount of liquid at the top, enough to cover the cabbage completely.

Whole Cabbage Heads with Brine

A brine is generally used for whole cabbage, as whole cabbage heads cannot form their own brine fast enough to protect them from mold and unwanted yeasts. While this method is the least labor-intensive, it takes the longest. Four weeks or more are necessary before moving to cold storage because of the size of the cabbage heads.

 

With each method, there are many variations on the basic recipe, adding other vegetables, herbs, and spices. Try one of our many sauerkraut recipes or create your own!

 

                                                
SMJ  
Bowl of sauerkraut and raw whole cabbages


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Making Sauerkraut  Making Sauerkraut

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