Here are my step by step photos of how I made sauerkraut at home.
Ingredients: cabbage, sea salt, caraway seeds (optional), other vegetables such as carrots, beets, kale are optional, too
Equipment: Large glass jar(s) – (you can also use a ceramic pot), large bowl, cutting board, knife
Step 1: After washing your cabbage, remove the outer leaves and save for later use. They will be used to cover the sauerkraut once it is in the jar
Step 2: Core and chop up the cabbage in fine strips and place in a large bowl. If adding other vegetables, you’ll want to keep the proportions as 90% cabbage, 10% other vegetables. Wash and chop additional vegetable is including.
Step 3: Add sea salt – 1 large head of cabbage is about 2.5 lbs so you would use 1 Tablespoon of sea salt. You can add a little more if you want. After fermentation, the salty flavour will dissipate. You can also add about 1 Tablespoon of the optional Caraway seeds. It just gives a more traditional flavour and helps to extract water from the cabbage.
Step 4: Massage the cabbage until wilted. Salt will draw moisture out of the cabbage and massaging breaks apart the fibres in the cabbage.
Step 5: After enough liquid has been drawn out of the cabbage, you can pack it into your jar(s) or ceramic pot. Place a little cabbage at a time, layer by layer. You should see a layer of liquid forming on top of the cabbage. If your hand fits in the jar opening, you can use your hand, otherwise a wooden spoon is best.
Step 6: Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) of space above the top of the cabbage to the top of the jar. As the cabbage ferments, air bubbles will form and push the sauerkraut upwards. Now, take the reserved cabbage leaf, cut it into a piece that will fit inside of the jar and use this to hold down the shredded cabbage pieces under the brine. You can also use a clean rock or a ceramic disk.
Step 7: Close the lid of the jar. I just used a normal seal with metal ring. Some people choose to simply place some fabric and an elastic band around the jar opening. Leave the jar on the counter for 1-4 weeks at room temperature away from direct sunlight. It’s a good idea to place your jar(s) in a shallow container to catch any spill that may occur if brine bubbles over. *As you can see, I did not leave enough space on top of the brine. Some liquid did spill out in the first couple of days.
Step 8: You should monitor your jar every day. (Unless you are using a crock. Then you shouldn’t need to check on it). With the glass jars, you don’t want too much gas build up otherwise a crack could form. Simply burp the jar by opening it and letting the air escape. You also want to make sure the cabbage is submerged under the brine liquid. Check for any mold or slime growth – simply scrape away if any forms.
*In the photo below you can see some gas bubbles at the bottom. Also note that the colours have changed during the fermenting process. This is the result after 1 week.
Step 9: You can taste the sauerkraut at the one week mark. If you like the flavour, you can put it in the fridge. If you want a more sour taste or if it is too salty, just leave longer. Taste periodically until you are satisfied with the flavour. The flavour should be tangy and a little fizzy, but not rotten tasting. You’ll know if it doesn’t taste right. You shouldn’t need to add anything else to the jar. Unless the brine has evaporated a lot, then you can make a brine solution (1/2 Tbsp salt per 1 cup of water).
Step 10: Enjoy! You can add it to salads, eggs or even on it’s own as a side dish. Can you spot the sauerkraut on my dinner plate?
Please feel free to ask questions. I’ll do my best to help 🙂