I often recommend that clients make this so here is my easy recipe!
What you will need
All you need is cabbage, salt, and some sort of container to store it while it’s fermenting. It’s important that the cabbage remain submerged in its liquid during fermentation. When making sauerkraut in a pot, you usually place a weighted plate over the cabbage to pack it down and keep it submerged. When fermenting in a killner jar, inserting a smaller jar filled with rocks or marbles in the mouth of the larger jar works in the same way.
The cabbage near the surface tends to float, so when fermenting in a kilner jar, you need to either push down the cabbage a few times a day or place a large outer leaf of cabbage over the surface of the shredded cabbage to hold it down. Also be sure to keep the jar covered at all times with a clean cloth or piece of cheese cloth. This will allow airflow, but prevent dust or insects from getting into the sauerkraut. Ensuring the cabbage is submerged is key, otherwise it will really start to smell and the process has gone wrong.
- 1 medium head organic green cabbage (or any cabbage – I like red too)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional, for flavour)
- wide-mouth kilner jar (or mason jars)
- Smaller jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
- Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the small jar
- Cloth for covering the jar
- Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth
- Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it’s best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your jars are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You’ll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.
- Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.
- Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first it might not seem like enough salt, but gradually the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you’d like to flavour your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.
- Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. Every so often, push down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar. Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
- Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, slip the smaller jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
- Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or loosely with its lid. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.
- Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the smaller jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
- Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
- Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.
Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when the sauerkraut is “done” — go by how it tastes.
While it’s fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
- Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.