Make Your Own Sauerkraut
This Owner’s Weekend, (Oct 20-21st), board members Olivia and Pam demo’d how to make your own sauerkraut, and Pam’s delicious guacamole! As promised, here are the instructions for sauerkraut. Look for Pam’s guac in another upcoming post!
Making your own sauerkraut, and many other fermented foods (e.g. kimchi, kombucha, sourdough), is very easy, and you shouldn’t be intimidated by it! The process is fairly foolproof, and if things go wrong, it’s obvious. To not reinvent the wheel, really excellent instructions are already on The Kitchn’s website, here.
My additional comments and suggestions:
The amount of salt it gives here can vary; you are aiming for 1-2% salt by weight of the cabbage.
You can use a food processor with the slicing (not grating) blade on, to quickly slice all the cabbage if you’re making a large batch. For just one head of cabbage, it will not take too long to slice by hand.
Using a combination of red and green cabbage will result in a bright pink-hued kraut!
As the Kitchn recipe says in a small “optional” note, it’s good to save one of the outer leaves of the cabbage to press down the cabbage bits under the brine afterward.
I never add additional water, and I also never come back and press the cabbage down over the first 24 hours, as these instructions suggest; I usually just try to tamp it down as much as possible at first, place a cabbage leaf or piece of parchment paper (cut into a circle) carefully on top with all of the small cabbage pieces underneath, and remove any bits from the sides of the jar or the top. This ensures the least amount of active time on your part, and will reduce the chances of mold growing on any exposed bits of cabbage. (As the instructions also say, however, don’t throw out the whole batch of sauerkraut if this happens!! Just remove the molded pieces and the rest of the batch is still fine.)
While these instructions say to leave it for 3-10 days or more, I usually go 1-3 weeks. Play around with the amount of time— you can always take some out and refrigerate it, let the rest of the batch keep fermenting, and compare the younger to the more mature at different stages to see what you like best. Fermentation will occur more quickly in warmer environments— try to keep it in the coolest corner of your house. While you don’t want to keep it in a particularly warm spot, like on top of a refrigerator (and definitely not in sunlight, which can kill good bacteria)— most cool, dark cabinets or closet spaces here in Hawaii should be fine.
In addition to caraway, you can add dill seeds or juniper berries for a more classic German flavor. You can also play around with your own flavorings, like coriander seeds, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, or even grated apple to make it sweeter!