Interested in trying to ferment something? Start with sauerkraut. It’s very easy and packed with probiotic goodness (and antioxidants, vitamins C and K, and other nutrients, thanks to the cabbage). Just find a nice – preferably organic to avoid chemical residue – medium cabbage and start fermenting!
We enjoy sauerkraut made with both green and red (purple) cabbage, but the purple is my favorite. It’s a little sweeter (naturally) than sauerkraut made with green cabbage, and who can resist that deep aubergine hue?
I use this base recipe. Start the sauerkraut by chopping or shredding the cabbage; I just slice it thinly. Save a half a cabbage leaf for each jar – one full leaf should suffice.
Then, the fun part: after adding the salt and (optional) whey, either pound it with an implement or firmly massage it with your hands for about ten minutes. I chose the latter approach and squeezed the living daylights out of it.
Once “massaged”, it should be a bit limp, with a good amount of liquid pooled in the bowl – ready for packing.
Firmly pack the prepared cabbage into jars, pressing out the air as you go with something like the (multi-purpose!) muddler I used. Once the jars are packed, there may be headspace left. Place a half of the reserved cabbage leaf at the top of each jar, then place a fermentation weight, like a Pickle Pebble, on top, or make a weight by filling a clean sandwich baggie with water, closing it securely, and stuffing it into the space at the top of the jar. Close the jar tightly.
Burp the jars daily to relieve pressure and check to ensure that no mold is growing. The recipe calls for just a few days of fermentation, but I like my sauerkraut tangy, so I keep sampling it until it’s just right (usually longer than 3 days). At that point, I store it in the refrigerator.
This sauerkraut is fantastic with brats and other sausages (meat or meatless), on baked potatoes, added to pasta and salads, or eaten right out of the jar! And don’t forget to drink the juice: as a probiotic shot, hidden (if needed) in a smoothie, in a dirty martini…it’s even touted to be a hangover cure. Find more great ideas for how to use sauerkraut here.