Preserving

Sauerkraut - it's worth the effort!

To make one batch of sauerkraut you will need:

1 cabbage (white or red are both suitable although white is more traditional)

1/100th the weight of the cabbage in salt (so if the cabbage weighs 1 kg, you will require 10g salt)

Flavourings such as cumin seeds/caraway seeds/dill/garlic/juniper berries to taste – or keep it simple

1 large bowl

1 large glass jar (try and find one that you can fit either your fist or a rolling pin in)

Something that will act as a weight and fit inside the glass jar (a clean filled wine bottle does the trick)

1 tea towel

1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage if they are damaged in any way. Slice the cabbage into strips and remove the core.

2. Weigh the cabbage strips in a bowl and sprinkle the salt on top (the amount of salt you use will be 1/100th of the weight of the cabbage).

3. With clean hands, massage the cabbage and salt, breaking down the vegetable and drawing out the moisture from the cabbage. This may take a few minutes.

4. You will notice that the cabbage will start to look like it has shrunk. Additional flavourings can be added at this point. For this run-through, I experimented with cumin seeds and juniper berries plus some finely sliced raw onion.

 

5. Pack the cabbage into the clean glass jar. Press it down as much as you can. It is necessary to leave some space in the jar for the juices to expand. Keep adding the cabbage and applying pressure as you go, encouraging the liquid to submerge the cabbage. The liquid is essential as it prevents oxygen from getting at the cabbage, creating the perfect conditions for fermentation.

6. Add all remaining juices from the bowl. Don’t be tempted to add any other liquid.

7. Insert the wine bottle or weight and ensure that the cabbage is fully below the level of the liquid.

8. Cover with a clean tea towel and keep at room temperature (nowhere too cool or too warm). A tea towel is preferable to a lid because it allows carbon dioxide to escape. You will need to keep an eye on your sauerkraut.

9. Observe its changes initially on a daily basis. You will notice the formation of small bubbles in the jar. Push down the weight if necessary. Check to ensure that no cabbage is floating on the top or in contact with the air.

10. The bubbling usually subsides after 1-2 weeks, at which point the sauerkraut can be stored in the fridge in a smaller sealed container. Taste it and see if you think it requires further time to develop flavour. The sauerkraut should then keep for 6 months-1 year. Sauerkraut is a delicious condiment. It adds a kick to sandwiches and salads, and goes very well with a hotdog.

11. Remember to compost any prep waste including peelings, etc.

 

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