How To Make Homemade Sauerkraut
How To Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a one-quart Mason Jar
Sauerkraut is the German style of fermented cabbage. Finely shredded cabbage is frequently mixed with other ingredients such as caraway seeds, carrots, and garlic. Red cabbage, napa cabbage, and other cabbages all make great sauerkraut, thus making it fun to create unique and enjoyable flavors all your own.
Although sauerkraut is a traditional German and Eastern European food, variations of it appear around the earth. In the past sauerkraut was especially useful because it provided the vitamins and nutrients of fresh vegetables throughout long sea voyages and during the long winter.
Sauerkraut easily keeps for several months if refrigerated. I have eaten sauerkraut well over six months old; it is fine although it begins to lose its crispness at the half-year mark.
Fermented Foods are Healing Foods
The process of lactic acid fermentation transforms salt and vegetables into fermented foods and increases food enzymes and vitamins, especially vitamin B.
Using this process to turn salt and cabbage into sauerkraut is yet another example of using food to help maintain, nourish, and heal the gut.
Homemade sauerkraut is full of beneficial bacteria, which are friendly microorganisms that help to colonize the gut, support the immune system, and develop vitamins in the digestive tract.
Why You Should Make Your Own Sauerkraut at Home
Money talks and we all want to save money, right?
Homemade sauerkraut is easy and inexpensive. Buying sauerkraut that actually has the probiotics in it at a grocery store or online easily runs you $15 or more per jar.
If you thought all sauerkraut sold in stores has probiotics, you are wrong. Check out my post Does store-bought sauerkraut have probiotics?
Buying the ingredients, organic cabbage, sea salt, and a few mason jars, you can make your own.
And the best part about it is you can adjust the flavor to your personal preference, whether that is more or less sour, adding in garlic, spices, peppers, even apples.
The Good Stuff Takes Time
Keep in mind the fermentation process will take longer in colder temperatures and shorter in warmer temperatures. The key is not to let your kitchen get too warm, or you invite an off taste to the sauerkraut. Keep your kitchen temp 80 degrees or lower.
Tasting the sauerkraut, after about a week, should give you some idea of how sour you want it. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, then it will most likely be ready after one week.
But if you crave the sour kind, then consider waiting a few months. I find that one to two months if perfect for me.
Like spicy foods? Add peppers and garlic to the mix. They will take time to marinate together for a real “punch” to your sense.
How about making it a little sweet to help get your kids to eat it too. Just add apples, a little lemon juice, caraway and fennel to the recipe. You will be surprised at how fast your children will jump on the “healthy gut” probiotic bandwagon without even knowing it.
Use organic cabbage when able to find (or grow your own!)
When sealing up the cabbage in a jar or fermenting crock, fill the vessel to its neck with the cabbage mixture, place the ferment weights over it to ensure that the veggies rest below the liquid. You can also use clean stones, a ziplock bag with water or just fold up some large cabbage leaves and press them over the top of the mixture.
Supplies for making Sauerkraut
1-quart Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Metal canning lids
Meat tenderizer or another compacting tool which can fit inside the mouth of the jar
A weight to keep the mixture down below the water.: A glass weight, or even a few clean stones, a ziplock bag with a little water in, or fold a few cabbage leaves and place them on top of the sauerkraut mixture. Any of these will do the trick.