Homemade Sauerkraut is a very old method of preserving food for a long period of time. Being invented at least 2000 years ago, there is a reason why this super nutritious food is still around and popular.
For another gut healthy food to make at home, try my Homemade Yogurt Recipe! It is easy and healthy, as well as a cost effective option.
When I was a child, I had an idea that sauerkraut was a gross and pointless food. Boy was I wrong! It is one food that has actually really helped the people who have the opportunity to eat it.
The first time I ever really enjoyed sauerkraut, was on a costco hotdog. The perfect tanginess and crunch it added to the hotdog was something that I could not live without after I had tried it.
It was so long since I had sauerkraut so I decided to make some. We live on a homestead out in the country and it takes a long time to go to the store. So making your own is a must for a lot of things out here in rural Oklahoma.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO FOR HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT
- Large metal bowl
- Weight- Any will do, whatever you have around will do. Just something to keep the cabbage below the brine. You can use a smaller jar, beans in a bag, some people even used washed rocks!
- Rubber band
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT
- Cabbage- Green or purple cabbage will work great!
- Caraway seeds (optional)
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT
- Start with one head of cabbage. It can be either green or purple and it does not make a difference.
- You only want very crisp leaves to make sauerkraut with. So, you may need to take a few limp layers of leaves off of the outside.
- I had to do this with this cabbage. So I removed in total about 4 or 5 leaves from the outside to get to the fresh, crunchy, interior leaves.
- Next, cut the cabbage in half making sure to cut the core in half as well.
- Next cut the cabbage into 1/4ths. Making sure to cut the core in half again.
- After cutting the cabbage into 1/4ths, remove the little bit of the core that is still on each other wedges.
- Finally, cut the cabbage into 1/8th wedges.
- As thin as you can, slice the cabbage cross ways. Cut the entire cabbage this way until it is all cut to as thin of strips as you can get them.
- If you don’t want to do it by hand or have a lot of sauerkraut to make. You can use a food processor or a mandolin to slice the cabbage very thin and much faster.
- Shred up all of your cabbage like this and place it all into a bowl.
- Add 1 and a half tablespoons of salt to the cabbage.
- The salt is going to begin pulling water from the cabbage and will create the brine that the sauerkraut ferments in.
- Get your hands in there and begin grinding the salt into the cabbage. Squeeze the cabbage and press the cabbage.
- Just rough the cabbage up overall. This will let the salt really get into the cabbage and this is what you really need for the whole process to work well.
- As you can see the salt has pulled much liquid out of the cabbage and it will begin pooling up in the bottom of the bowl. This is what you want to see.
- You will also notice the cabbage becoming a bit softer and more pliable as you message it. This is normal.
- Once a good bit of water has been pulled out and the cabbage has softened up, then it is ready to go into jars to ferment.
- If you don’t have a canning funnel, I would highly recommend getting one! I have one and I use it all the time!
- I eat my work lunches in jars, so I use on of these to fill all my jars and it is perfect.
- Pack the cabbage into any jar that you can fit it in. Just know you will need some room in the top to put something to keep the cabbage submerged in the liquid.
- This is a 1 gallon jar that I used but again, you can use any size jar.
- Optional: Take one of the leaves you removed at step one, and drape it over the shredded cabbage. Just to help contain the shreds of cabbage under the liquid.
It should look something like this.
- Now use something to weigh down the cabbage so it stays under the brine.
- For this I just used sandwich bags filled with dry beans. It works well. But you can use many different things.
- Like I said already, you can even use cleaned rocks for this if you have nothing else.
- While sauerkraut is fermenting it releases a lot of gas. So either put a fine towel over top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Or, put a plastic lid on the jar, but you must release the gas daily by opening the jar.
- If you forget to release the pressure in the jar, it could explode rather violently. So be careful and make sure you release the gas at least once daily.
- Let the cabbage ferment for 3-7 days. You can go longer than this, depending on your taste. Letting it go longer will make it more sour and stronger tasting.
- You may see bubbles, foam, or scum on the surface of your cabbage. This is a good sign that your cabbage is fermenting properly.
- While the cabbage is fermenting, check it daily to see that all of the cabbage is submerged in the liquid. Punch the cabbage down if it is not submerged completely.
- After the cabbage is fermented to your liking, pack into jars for storage.
- Discard any cabbage that was above the liquid, discard any mold, and discard any off putting or stinky cabbage.
- Even if you have mold on any part of the cabbage, any cabbage that was submerged is still good to eat.
- Place the finished sauerkraut in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
- Sauerkraut can last longer than 6 months in the refrigerator. The rule of thumb for eating sauerkraut is to trust your gut.
- If sauerkraut has an unappealing scent or taste to it, then it might be time to throw it out.
HOW LONG WILL SAUERKRAUT LAST?
Sauerkraut will last varying amounts of time depending on the conditions it is kept in.
ROOM TEMPERATURE: 2 months or longer.
REFRIGERATOR: 4-6 months or longer.
FROZEN: Can stay good indefinitely.
CANNED: Canned sauerkraut can last 3-5 years or longer.
- 1 Medium head of cabbage - Can be green or purple cabbage
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed (optional)
- Make sure everything is clean before beginning to make sauerkraut. It is a fermented food and you don't want any unwanted bacteria.
- Remove any soft or wilted leaves from the outside of the cabbage. Use only fresh, crisp leaves to make the sauerkraut.
- Slice cabbage into 1/8 wedges, cutting through the core each time. Remove the sections of the core.
- Shred the wedges cabbage crossways as thin as you can possibly slice it. Do this to the entire cabbage and place the sliced cabbage into a large bowl.
- Add salt and proceed to mix the salt with the cabbage, squeezing and pressing the cabbage as vigorously as you can for about 5 or 10 minutes until a lot of liquid has been pulled out of the cabbage and the cabbage has softened up.
- Place the cabbage into a large jar or container. (Optional) Place one of the leaves that you removed from the outside of the cabbage and place it over the shredded cabbage in the jar to help hold all of the cabbage under the liquid.
- Weigh the cabbage down so that all of the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. This will ensure it all gets fermented properly. During fermentation, check the sauerkraut daily to ensure all of the cabbage is submerged.
- Place a fine towel over the jar and secure with a rubber band. Place in a cool place out of the sunlight and let it ferment for 3-7 days or until the flavor is right for you.
- After this time has elapsed, pack the sauerkraut into jars or other storage containers. Be sure to discard any mold or unsavory looking pieces of sauerkraut from the batch before putting into the jars.
This sauerkraut will stay good in the refrigerator for 4-6 months or even longer.
There is not a common method to verify that the sauerkraut is ready or still good to eat other than you using your personal preference. If it has been sitting in your fridge for only 3 months and you think that it has an off-putting smell or texture, use your judgement because it may be time to throw it out.
Many things may be used to weigh down the cabbage so that it stays submerged in the liquid. I use bags of beans but you can use anything from smaller jars to fill in the space, to cleaned rocks or stones. All you need to do is make sure the cabbage stays submerged.
Serving Size:1 CUP
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 54.6Total Fat: 3.5gSodium: 925mgCarbohydrates: 5.8gFiber: 3.9gSugar: 2.4gProtein: 1.3g
BRIEF HISTORY OF SAUERKRAUT
Even though sauerkraut is a well known German dish. Fermenting cabbage as a way to preserve it for long periods of time actually has its origin in ancient china. Apparently, the people who worked on the great wall of china enjoyed a daily ration of cabbage fermented and preserved in rice wine. This would have kept them healthy and strong during the difficult construction.
Fast forward to 17th century (1600’s) Germany where this food became a German staple. Every year in the fall, German families would get together and decide how much cabbage they would all eat throughout the coming winter. They would work together to slice up all of the cabbage, salt the cabbage, and let it ferment in barrels. A typical cellar in Germany would maintain a steady temperature of 50°F and would allow the sauerkraut to remain edible for months on end.
Sauerkraut has been used in many different dishes depending on the availability of ingredients. Sauerkraut fried with pork was the traditional favorite but any number of other vegetables and meats would be paired with the sauerkraut. Even in modern days, a coworker of mine was telling me that her mother would fry sauerkraut and hotdogs for her and her siblings while they grew up in rural Oklahoma in the 1950’s-1970’s.