When life gives you cabbage, you make delicious sauerkraut! Sauerkraut is a form of fermented cabbage that has been popular throughout Central Europe for hundreds of years. It’s a combination of one of the healthiest foods there is (cabbage) with one of the most time-honored food preparation methods ever used, called fermentation. If you’ve ever thought about making your own sauerkraut at home, you’re in luck! In this post, we’ll go through the simple process of how to make sauerkraut at home in a fermentation jar.
Sauerkraut is one of the most simple fermentation projects you can try because it only requires two simple ingredients: salt and cabbage. It is especially handy because you can buy cabbage any time of the year. Making sauerkraut is also easy to do with kids. Small children love the squishing and squeezing of salted cabbage. And the method is extremely forgiving, if you remember just a few particulars. So, let’s get started.
How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar
Buying Your Sauerkraut and Fermentation Supplies
Feel free to use any kind of cabbage you want, from green to heirloom and everything in between. If you want to get extra fancy, you can add in other veggies, like carrots and garlic, to spice up your mix. In fact, we have a few easy sauerkraut recipes you can try once you get the hang of just cabbage:
As for the salt, you can use almost any type of salt as long as the only ingredient on the label is sodium chloride. The salt should be free of additives like iodine, which can interfere with the fermentation process and even alter the taste. Sea salt and pickling salt are both excellent options to consider.
Make Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
For this fermentation method, you’ll want to pick up a wide-mouth Mason jar. A simple head of cabbage will fit nicely in one quart or two pint jars.
Prepare your cabbage by removing any discolored outer leaves, and then quarter your cabbage and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into small strips, somewhere between ⅛- and ¼-inch wide.
Next, add salt to the cabbage to draw water out of it. This creates the brine that’s responsible for the fermentation process. If you end up not using enough salt in your recipe, you’ll end up with mushy and moldy sauerkraut. Too much salt, on the other hand, can slow down the fermentation process and keep the beneficial bacteria from multiplying. The magic ratio is one tablespoon of salt to 1 ¾ pounds of cabbage.
Knead your cabbage and salt in a large bowl until you get a frothy brine flowing. Many chefs recommend kneading for a full ten minutes because if you don’t work the cabbage thoroughly, there won’t be enough brine to cover it when you transfer it to the jar. Scoop the cabbage into your jar and pack it down tightly.
Once full, wipe the rim of the jar, place a weight on top the cabbage to keep it submerged, apply the rubber gasket, fermentation lid, and airlock. Set aside in a cool place out of direct sunlight for a week to 10 days to ferment. After the allotted time has passed, open up your jar and enjoy!
If you do not have fermentation lids for Mason jars, you can still use the lid that came with the jar. Apply the band loosely and remember to burp the lid a couple times a day to release any gasses that build up. You will probably want to set the jar on a plate, too, in case you do have an overflow of brine.
If you’re brand new to fermentation, you may feel intimidated trying to buy supplies online. At Fermentools, we’re proud to offer some of the best fermentation products on the market. From starter kits to fermenting weights, we have everything you need to start making your own sauerkraut at home. Browse our online store today!