Homemade saurkraut, three flavors

March/5/2021 in Uncategorized
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Preparation time: preparations 20 minutes, cooking 0 minutes, total 20 minutes
Makes: 500 g / 1 pound
Homemade sauerkraut, flavors

Now that we are at home a lot because of covid, I do one fermentation project after another. Sourdough, vegan blue cheese, kimchi and now sauerkraut!

Making your own sauerkraut is surprisingly easy and a nice approachable way to get into fermentation. It is almost impossible to mess up and you do not need any special ingredients or equipment. You can make endless variations and create flavors that you'll never find in stores. I like to add all kinds of spices and often use red cabbage because instead of white for a more pronounced flavor and beautiful color.

Fresh homemade sauerkraut tastes very different from store bought. It's much crunchier, especially if you cut the cabbage in wider ribbons. You can control how sour you like your cabbage by fermenting it shorter or longer. This sauerkraut is delicious on sandwiches, but also in casseroles or simply as a side dish instead of salad.

If you're new to fermentation, it might seem a bit scary to let a jar of chopped cabbage bubble on your counter for days on end. How can you be sure it won't go bad and is safe to eat? The great thing about fermenting vegetables is that salt and water together create an environment in which good lactic acid bacteria thrive, while bad bacteria and fungi have virtually no chance. It is therefore very important that you add enough salt and make sure that the cabbage is completely submerged in the water. If a little yeast or mold does start to grow on the surface of the water, you can scoop it off and add a little more salt if necessary.

You can calculate for yourself how much salt you need. For this you take the weight of the vegetables + the water and add 2-3% salt. For 900 grams of cabbage and 100 grams of water (total 1000 grams or a little over 2 pounds) you need 20 to 30 grams of salt. For 350 grams of cabbage, 100 grams of carrot and 50 grams of water (total 500 grams or one pound) you are good with 10 to 15 grams of salt. A tablespoon of salt weighs about 10-15 grams, depending on the size of your spoons. There is quite a wide margin for error, so don't stress it if you cannot measure the salt accurately to the gram.

If you do all this properly, the lactic acid bacteria will grow and you will get delicious sauerkraut. The lactic acid produced then ensures that the fermented vegetables have a long shelf life, just like when you pickling something in vinegar. This is an age-old technique for preserving vegetables.

Below you will find the basic recipe for plain old-fashioned white cabbage sauerkraut and three surprising flavor combinations with spices and other vegetables: spicy red cabbage with chili and garlic, white cabbage with curry powder and white cabbage with carrot, fennel and caraway. Try them all out and start experimenting with your own flavor combinations!

Basic sauerkraut recipe

  • 500 grams / 1 pound white cabbage
  • 1 large tablespoon salt (13 grams)
  • water as needed
  • 1 large jar (700 ml) or 2 smaller jars (400 ml)

Cut the cabbage into narrow or slightly wider ribbons. Add the cabbage to a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, mix well and press it down firmly.

Let the salted cabbage rest for 6 to 12 hours so that it releases some moisture. You can knead the cabbage with your hands to make it softer and release more moisture, but usually I'm too lazy for that.

Transfer the cabbage and the released liquid to one large pot or two smaller pots, and press down very well with a sturdy (wooden) spoon. If necessary, top up the sauerkraut juice with water until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least 2 cm / 1 inch of headspace. (My pots in the picture are actually too full and overflow if I'm not paying close attention.) If you have a glass or stone weight you can put this on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged, but this is optional. Cover loosely with a lid to allow for escaping gasses.

After one to three days, the sauerkraut will start to bubble and develop a sour taste. Fermentation is faster at warm temperatures than when it is cold. Check every day whether the cabbage is still well submerged and press it down with the spoon if starts to float from the bubbles. You may get some white specks or a thin white layer (kahm yeast) growing on the surface of the water. This is not harmful and you can just scoop it off.

Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for 4-10 days, until it has reached your desired level of sourness. Transfer it to the fridge, where it will keep up to several months.

Spicy red sauerkraut

  • 500 grams / 1 pound red cabbage
  • 1 large tablespoon salt (13 grams)
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • water as needed
  • 1 large jar (700 ml) or 2 smaller jars (400 ml)

Cut the cabbage into narrow or slightly wider ribbons. Add the cabbage to a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, mix well and press it down firmly.

Let the salted cabbage rest for 6 to 12 hours so that it releases some moisture. You can knead the cabbage with your hands to make it softer and release more moisture.

Now add the garlic and chili flakes to the cabbage. Transfer the cabbage mixture and it's liquid to one large pot or two smaller pots, and press down very well with a sturdy (wooden) spoon. If necessary, top up the sauerkraut juice with water until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least 2 cm / 1 inch of headspace. Cover loosely with a lid to allow for escaping gasses.

After one to three days, the sauerkraut will start to bubble and develop a sour taste. Fermentation is faster at warm temperatures than when it is cold. Check every day whether the cabbage is still well submerged and press it down with the spoon if starts to float from the bubbles. You may get some white specks or a thin white layer (kahm yeast) growing on the surface of the water. This is not harmful and you can just scoop it off.

Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for 4-10 days, until it has reached your desired level of sourness. Transfer it to the fridge, where it will keep up to several months.

Curry sauerkraut

  • 500 grams / 1 pound white cabbage
  • 1 large tablespoon salt (13 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • water as needed
  • 1 large jar (700 ml) or 2 smaller jars (400 ml)

Cut the cabbage into narrow or slightly wider ribbons. Add the cabbage to a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and curry powder, mix well and press it down firmly.

Let the salted cabbage rest for 6 to 12 hours so that it releases some moisture. You can knead the cabbage with your hands to make it softer and release more moisture.

Transfer the cabbage mixture and it's liquid to one large pot or two smaller pots, and press down very well with a sturdy (wooden) spoon. If necessary, top up the sauerkraut juice with water until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least 2 cm / 1 inch of headspace. Cover loosely with a lid to allow for escaping gasses.

After one to three days, the sauerkraut will start to bubble and develop a sour taste. Fermentation is faster at warm temperatures than when it is cold. Check every day whether the cabbage is still well submerged and press it down with the spoon if starts to float from the bubbles. You may get some white specks or a thin white layer (kahm yeast) growing on the surface of the water. This is not harmful and you can just scoop it off.

Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for 4-10 days, until it has reached your desired level of sourness. Transfer it to the fridge, where it will keep up to several months.

Spicy sauerkraut with carrot

  • 400 grams (14 oz) white cabbage
  • 100 grams (3,5 oz) winter carrots
  • 1 large tablespoon salt (13 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • water as needed
  • 1 large jar (700 ml) or 2 smaller jars (400 ml)

Cut the cabbage into narrow or slightly wider ribbons. Add the cabbage to a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and spices, mix well and press it down firmly.

Let the salted cabbage rest for 6 to 12 hours so that it releases some moisture. You can knead the cabbage with your hands to make it softer and release more moisture.

Transfer the cabbage mixture and it's liquid to one large pot or two smaller pots, and press down very well with a sturdy (wooden) spoon. If necessary, top up the sauerkraut juice with water until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least 2 cm / 1 inch of headspace. Cover loosely with a lid to allow for escaping gasses.

After one to three days, the sauerkraut will start to bubble and develop a sour taste. Fermentation is faster at warm temperatures than when it is cold. Check every day whether the cabbage is still well submerged and press it down with the spoon if starts to float from the bubbles. You may get some white specks or a thin white layer (kahm yeast) growing on the surface of the water. This is not harmful and you can just scoop it off.

Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for 4-10 days, until it has reached your desired level of sourness. Transfer it to the fridge, where it will keep up to several months.

A Dutch translation of these recipes can be found here.

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