There is a blog I check in with from time to time written by Rural Rose. She has a farm in British Columbia, and is a font of common sense practical information on her Life Through the Cracks blog. It was there I saw a post on how to make sauerkraut. Who knew it was so easy! Then on various catalogs I’ve been seeing ceramic crocks for fermenting for sell. So last month I ordered the smallest size ,1 gallon, and began the task of making my own Sauerkraut.
I researched various methods to ferment. The key is salt, plenty of it, and keeping your shredded cabbage sealed and weighted underneath the brine which forms as water is drawn out the cabbage. You also want to be careful of your temperatures as it ferments at room temperature. Not to hot or cold. You never want your environment to be over 75 degrees as the cabbage will become soft and not ferment properly. I found this link to best most comprehensive How to ferment sauerkraut. I liked this link because its comprehensive , addressing temps, altitudes for canning, etc.Don’t be alarmed if you see a scum during fermentation. You can carefully remove that.Some people wont get that at all. The cabbage is protected underneath the brine. Make sure your utensils and vessels are clean. Keep your edges clean as you weight your cabbage with a plate that fits inside. Then add a salt water filled plastic bag or water filled jug on top top weigh the plate down and keep the cabbage covered and air tight. A brine filled bag is good in case your water leaks. The total amount of salt varies, but use NON IODIZED Kosher or Sea Salt. Most people give a guideline of 3 tablespoons of salt to 5 lbs of cabbage. In addition the salt keeps the cabbage crunchy.
There are those that will argue the decision to can or not. As sauerkraut is formed through lactic acid fermentation, it is quite healthy with pro-biotic benefits. However processing your sauerkraut will kill the beneficial nature of fresh sauerkraut, and leave you with just a tasty treat . Wild Fermentation has an excellent post on this. The choice is yours . If you keep it fresh and raw , it will keep in the refrigerator for months after the fermentation period which ranges from 1-3 weeks depending on climate. If you process it in a water bath , the shelf life is longer and can kept at room temperature. For this first trial, I went the canning route to give as gifts and just to put up.
Be creative. Use red or green cabbage. I used both. Combine with other shredded vegetables or apples even. I threw in some caraway seeds and juniper seeds while fermenting to flavor.
As Autumn approaches you will have an enjoyable side to compliment your sausages and roasted meats and vegetables. Wash it all down with a cold beer.