Cabbage is in season. You know, those strange balls of green leaves that you see at the market and wonder how to use in your kitchen. Move past cabbage soup! (The diet’s not much fun)
Why not ‘kraut it? Sauerkraut is a great place to start in your fermentation journey. First, you get to release any anger by pounding it, then you get to relax while the delicious sourness builds.
Eating something fermented every day puts beneficial bacteria into our guts – generally improving our immune system and overall health. Sauerkraut can be added to soups like borscht, sides for free-range smokies, or just a heaping tablespoon on the side with any meal. Lacto-fermentation is where it’s at; so you don’t need any vinegar. Here’s what you need:
√ One medium-size cabbage. I like savoy. For a tie-dye kraut, use 1 small purple and 1 small green cabbage
√ Good cutting knife
√ One mason jar
√ Clean tea towel
√ Rubber band
√ Something to pound with: end of a baseball bat, rolling pin handle, or meat tenderizer
√ Caraway seeds
√ 1 Tbsp sea or pickling salt
√ Filtered water
√ Weight that fits into mason jar (clean rock or kitchen tool)
1. First chop up the cabbage. You can have long slices or square chops – the sizes of the slices don’t matter. If you have a mandolin slicer, this could also work.
2. Alternate filling the jar with a handful of sliced cabbage, sprinkle of salt and caraway seeds and then a good pounding of the cabbage until its juices start to come out. This could take up to 10 minutes per layer. Yes, we’re working out while we ‘kraut.
3. Once the jar is filled fairly tightly and the cabbage compressed to about an inch from the top, you should have quite a bit of juice. This is great! The salt also helps pull water from the cabbage. Place a weight on the cabbage so that the juices cover it. What we don’t want is the cabbage to be exposed to air – it needs to be covered completely by water. I usually use my sea salt shaker!
4. Fill filtered water to the top of the jar, cover the whole production with tea towel and secure with a rubber band. It should be stored somewhere dark and relatively cool – so preferably not near the oven. If you have a pantry or root cellar, take advantage!
5. Then taste your kraut every few days. Once it reaches the sourness your taste buds approve of, seal the jar and keep refrigerated.