In the Queensland Tropics and warmer climates, Sauerkraut needs to be fermented in Winter, as the fermentation process doesn't activate well in the heat. The cabbage becomes soft and not as crisp as it should be, and the fermentation process which should noticeably begin at least on the 3rd day after the process begins, can take longer and be slow and not as effective. During a successful fermentation, it is so exciting to see the brine which the cabbage is immersed in begin to bubble up and rise to the top of the bottle or crock that I am using to ferment my sauerkraut. There has been a lot of discussion on social media lately about making sauerkraut, probably because it is Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and everybody has their own way of doing it. It is great to see that so many of us have become interested in perfecting this process in our own kitchens, as the health benefits to our gut are enormous, and it also tastes great with a lot of the meats that we eat. It is also a lot more economical than buying it from the supermarket.
|One chopped cabbage, room for another one. The carrot has given this batch the orange colour.|
This glass crock easily takes two whole green chopped cabbages, and even more if you have it, however it is important leave some room at the top of the vessel for the brine to fill when it bubbles up and ferments.
This is the box that the Sauerkraut crock lives in when not in use. It is a Mortier Pilon Sauerkraut Crock, in case you are interested.
This is my standard recipe that I use now for making basic Sauerkraut and I don't deviate from it. This amount of salt results in a very active fermentation, and just the right Sauerkraut flavour. The health benefits contained in this beautiful bottle of goodness are enormous.The salt needs to be very good sea salt or rock salt though, Saxa iodised salt just doesn't cut it. I tend to use Himalayan Rock salt most of the time.
Measure 1 tablespoon of salt to 800 g. of cabbage, and add 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds. All cabbages are a different weight, and the amount I use depends on what container I am using for the batch of sauerkraut. I always weigh the cabbage, and then use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 800 g of cabbage. We like the flavour of caraway seeds so I add 1tablespoon of Caraway seeds to each batch, and throw in a sprinkle of mustard seeds for good measure. Other seeds that you like the flavour of can be substituted though. I also like to add a grated carrot to mine for extra flavour and colour, but this is optional. If you grow nasturtiums, why not add a few leaves as well, for extra interest.and they also act as mould inhibitors in your sauerkraut, but aren't essential.
Green Cabbage Sauerkraut recipe
1 small white or red cabbage, rinsed, cored and cut into small wedges which will fit in the chute of your food processor (approx. 800g cabbage)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Sprinkle of Mustard seeds
1 tablespoons Himalayan Salt Flakes (Depending on weight of cabbage, see note above)
(You can also substitute the caraway seeds or add to the caraway seeds with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds or white peppercorns if you prefer those flavours or just happen to have those spices on hand. They will be fermented in the process.) Besides adding amazing flavour to your ferment, the spices act as mould inhibitors or at least slow it down.
1 grated carrot (optional)
I shredded the cabbage in my food processor which saves so much time, or if you want to replicate the way sauerkraut has been made during previous European generations, you can either slice it finely or grate it by hand.
Place the cabbage in a large glass bowl and add the caraway seeds and the salt and toss the seeds and the salt through the cabbage with clean hands. I also added a sprinkle of mustard seeds as they are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories such as selenium and magnesium.
Let this powerful brew sit for 30 minutes to activate the juices.
Spoon the vegetable mixture into your crock or large glass jars, allowing at least an inch or 3cm at the top of each mixture for juices and expansion because I assure you it will rise to the top of the jar. It's alive.
Press down gently on the cabbage in the crock or glass jar with a wooden implement similar to a mortar which will fit through the mouth of the jar, forcing the briney juices to the top of the cabbage. I very gently used my granite mortar as Mr. HRK is making me a wooden one, and the juices from the cabbage rose to the top as expected. This process is so fulfilling, to see the shredded cabbage condense together, and the brine rise to the top to cover the cabbage. This is essential, and if this doesn't happen you need to add a little purified water, however if the cabbage has been correctly salted you will have enough brine.
The cabbage then needs to be weighed down so that the juices stay at the top and the fermenting process can begin. I use the trimmed core of the cabbage to weigh down the shredded cabbage and help the juices rise above it. A thick cabbage leaf can also be placed on top and pressed down leaving space above it for the juices to rise, and they do as you can see in the photos below. In the crock, I then place the weight that is provided on top of the cabbage leaves and the process begins. In large bottles, the core of the cabbage and the cabbage leaves are enough to fit the top of the bottle snugly. Weigh down the cabbage and allow the juices to sit at the top.
Seal your crock or bottle loosely and keep at room temperature for 3 days. I open mine each morning to check that it is fermenting and to release the carbon dioxide, and you will see the bubbles moving. I also push the cabbage down each day forcing more juices to the top and ensuring the vegetables stay submerged.The longer you leave it to ferment, the more sour and distinctive the flavour will be.
If you feel that your ferment really is drying out, it is important to only use filtered water to top it up as the chlorine in tap water will kill the bacteria needed for fermentation.
Your crock of sauerkraut can then be bottled and moved to the frig after 3 days, or a week at the most, where it will keep for several months, and the flavour will develop during this period however it can be eaten within a week, or even earlier if you are desperate to try it. Have 10 large warm sterilised jars ready to bottle your sauerkraut, for 2 cabbages worth of sauerkraut. When adding the sauerkraut mixture to each bottle, press it down, forcing the juices to the top of the bottle. The cabbage will absorb more of the liquid when refrigerated.
I also bottle up the fermented cabbage leaves in some brine, and often use them in my Beef, Sauerkraut, and Mango Chutney Goulash, delicious and very nutritious.
The photo below is from a previous batch where I used just a large Balls jar to ferment a small batch. It worked ok as well.
The level of the cabbage moves up to the top of the jar as the cabbage ferments, and is weighed down by cabbage leaves.
Making sauerkraut has been firmly embedded in European and American cultures for centuries because of the food preservation advantages and the health benefits, however it is interesting that we are only just starting to really embrace it in our own kitchens in Australia. It is so inexpensive to make at home as cabbages are also cheap at this time of year. The jars of sauerkraut available to buy in the shops are very expensive and often say that they use a starting culture to activate them, I'm not sure what that is but it's not necessary in my kitchen.
If you would like to experiment more, these are some other sauerkrauts I have made, and I especially like the spicy one.
Spicy Kraut link:
Purple Sauerkraut link:
Chopped Vegetable Ferment in Lovely Layers link:
I would love to hear from you with any other fermenting tips and tricks you may have.
Have fun in your kitchen,
After reading how you and Mae make sauerkraut now I really want to make some. Thank you for the tip about making it in the winter. I also bookmarked the crock information. 😊ReplyDelete
In your part of the world you have a great Winter for making sauerkraut Nil.Meanwhile enjoy your Summer. Thanks, PaulineDelete
I must make up another batch and will buy a cabbage from the farmer's market tomorrow. I use sea salt from the great barrier reef as a lady at the market sells it. I think it packaged in Sydney. I can't remember the name at the moment. I still use the Moccona jars as the size is good for us as my hubby doesn't eat the sauerkraut for some reason and our son has left home.ReplyDelete
I like the sound of the Great Barrier Reef salt Chel. Haven't seen it here for sale anywhere. Hope your sauerkraut goes well. Thanks, PaulineReplyDelete
after reading your post pauline i'm thinking i didn't use enough salt! i didn't really get the whole bubbling up thing happening. there were a few bubbles and a bit of a tangy smell but that was it. maybe i just have a whole lot of pickled cabbage!! did you use an aussie (bigger) tablespoon or the 15g. type? cheers sherryReplyDelete
I think mine must be the Aussie bigger tablespoon, also measures 20 ml, and bought from Woolies, a pink one:)You know Sherry, I think my best result happens when I make it in smaller amounts, such as in the very large Moccona glass jars, not sure why really. However the last batch made in the crock still tasted great. After I add the salt to the cabbage in a large bowl and let it sit for about 30 minutes, I always have a lot of brine then. I never need to add anymore liquid. I'm constantly learning with it though as well.I read a couple of books from the library on fermenting which really helped and these from a previous blog post of mine: Dr Michael Mosley in his book the Clever Guts Diet. I also refer to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon constantly, and now weigh all of this up with Sarah Wilson's Simplicious book in the I Quit Sugar series. Thanks Sherry and good luck with your next batch of fermenting, Cheers, PaulineReplyDelete