Sauerkraut has always been one of my childhood favorites. I guess when you are born into a large Luxembourg family, you just have the taste for it!
I’ve been making sauerkraut for a long time and I just love the fresh taste and how relatively easy it is to make!
You really don’t need any sophisticated kitchen tools or appliances.
As a kid, I just loved the taste, but what we know now is that since sauerkraut is categorized as ferment it does so much to support a healthy immune system and regulate digestion, so it makes sense to find a way to eat fermented foods daily.
You could spend $50 a month on good quality probiotic pills, or you can pick up a couple of heads of cabbage at about 50 cents a pound, depending on the season, and consume your proibiotcs with dinner.
Homemade sauerkraut is just so delicious! Also, it is so nice to have an instant side dish ready in my cupboard!
Although fermenting vegetable sounds very intimidating and difficult, I can assure you it is a super simple and quick process.
Like any fermented foods, fermented sauerkraut is beaming with probiotics. When salt and cabbage are massaged together and allow to sit for a few days, lactobacillus starts to populate.
This beneficial bacteria that can be found in lots of fermented foods like yogurt can help increase your gut bacteria. Regular consumption of fermented foods have been shown to improve digestion, increase immunity, reduce the risk of cancer, and help reduce inflammation (source).
Wash, remove the outside few leaves and core cabbage. Remove any large hard chunks. (Our chickens love when I make kraut- they get a nice salad at the end of the day).
Shred cabbages using either a Kraut Cutter, food processor or a sharp knife.
Place shredded cabbage in clean, food-grade 5 gallon bucket. I fill 1/3 of the bucket and then add 2 tablespoons of salt and massage that little batch with my clean hands. Shred more cabbage, and then add 2 tablespoons of salt, massaging that little batch, then do this one more time until the bucket is filled will cabbage and you have added 6 tablespoons of salt total.
Give your cabbage one more good massage to make sure the salt has been evenly distributed and begin to tamp down your cabbage. We use my grandma’s large wooden tamper, but you can use a wooden spoon or even your clean hands. Tamping will start to bring the water out of your cabbage. You will want about 1-2″ of liquid on top of your cabbage. Grab a large plate, slightly smaller than you bucket hole and press it down onto the cabbage to bring that liquid up above the plate.
I fill 2 gallon-sized ziplock bags about 3/4 full of water and place them on top of the plate to weigh it down and keep the cabbage underneath the liquid.
If you are making kraut during the warmer months you may have gnats or flies that find your bucket. I did everything I thought was right my first time making kraut except to rubberband a couple of dishtowels over top of the bucket. Then I ended up tossing an entire bucket of kraut because I saw 1 gnat and I dreamed that it maybe had babies in my kraut. Maybe I overthought things, but I just didn’t want to chance it. All my hard work was for nothing!
Now, I always add a couple of flour sack towels on top and then use a rubber band to secure them onto the top of the rim, just to be sure, now!
**Even better, make your sauerkraut in the cooler months, when you can avoid bug life and the heat all together! March and April is the perfect time for us to make our kraut.
Set your bucket in a dark cool place for 5-6 weeks. I set mine in my basement storage room. If you filled your bucket really full, you will want to set it on a newspaper in case it overflows a bit.
I like watching the little bubbles come to the surface when it’s fermenting! It’s like watching science happen right before your eyes.
I will occasionally swipe away any white scum that happens on the top using a clean paper towel.
After 5-6 weeks bring your bucket to the kitchen, removing any white scum, your water weights and the plate. Revealing your sauerkraut will be so exciting! You can actually eat it right out of the bucket! Our kids race to get the first taste.
Sanitize your jars and lids.
Place your kraut into a large pot heating it through and simmering it. You don’t want to boil it! Keep the temp medium-low heat.
Add hot kraut to your hot washed jars and add a little water to bring the level just 1/2 above the kraut.
Add the lid and ring and place into hot water bath for 15 minutes for a pint or 20 minutes for a quart.
If you are sharing them with folks, be sure to add the date that you canned them.
If stored in a dark cool place, I have kept kraut for 6 months – 1 year!
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You sure can! I have just used a simple mason jar and made up a smaller batch that can sit right on my kitchen counter for 5 days- 3 weeks! I personally prefer the taste of the kraut that I make in larger quantities that ferment for 5-6 weeks, but that’s just my preference.
Leave it out on the counter for 5 days-3 weeks. It will just become more pungent as it sits. If this is your first time trying homemade sauerkraut, it may be better to ferment it for less time.
Remove fermentation weight and folded up cabbage leaves, put the lid on the jar and store in the fridge.
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