How to Make Sauerkraut at Home

I eat sauerkraut for breakfast almost every day, and I am not ashamed. Hi, Internet! I eat sauerkraut for breakfast! With eggs or bacon, sometimes avocado. I really like it on fried rice.

If you aren’t eating it, it might be sauerkraut time. Probiotics are terribly good for you. I’m a full-on convert. Sauerkraut is particularly healing for your gut, and it’s tangy, crunchy and delicious at all hours of the day.

Let’s move on to what most people ask when they learn I make my own — how to make sauerkraut. I feel a little silly sharing my recipe because it’s easy to look up and simple to do, but everyone has their own technique and mine is basic and straightforward. Here’s what I know about fermenting foods. Salt selects for good bacteria, and with that one ingredient, you can ferment lots of different veggies and fruit, including apples and cucumbers, green tomatoes, squash. I like plain ol’ sauerkraut. It’s a staple in my fridge, and I get sad when I haven’t planned ahead and run out. I get even more depressed when I pay $8 for a jar; one homemade batch fills up two to three jars and lasts me almost a month. It’s a big turnaround for someone who grew up in a household where everything goes in the refrigerator; leaving cabbage out on the counter on purpose took some getting used to. Sniff it, poke it, taste it. It’s super cool to see fermentation in action, and the results are delicious. You’ll be an addict in no time.

Basic Sauerkraut Recipe

Modified from the “Living Foods” class at at PCC Cooks.

- 1 green cabbage, ideally organic (roughly 2.5 pounds)

- 5 tsp. kosher salt

Tools : Large bowl, pestle or meat pounder, glass jar or container

Cut cabbage into quarters, splitting down the core. Remove the core from each of the four pieces. Chop or grate the cabbage finely. As you chop, place the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkling salt on each layer until the cabbage looks sparkly. Use more salt in summer, less in winter. Once you’ve finished chopping and salting, add cabbage to a glass jar, packing each layer down with your pestle or meat pounder to force water out of cabbage. One cabbage typically fits in a one quart glass jar and the cabbage should hold enough water to submerge. Place a jar of water or other weight on top of the cabbage to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. If you don’t have enough brine, add 1 tablespoon salt dissolved in 1 cup of water. Cover with a clean cloth and place in a cool area. Let it sit and do its thing for 1 to 2 weeks.

Check daily, and press the cabbage down under the brine. A bubbly mold can show up around the surface – skim it off. Sauerkraut generally takes one to two weeks depending on time of year. I like mine crunchy, so I dig in after a week. Some people like it really tangy. Once you get your happy kraut flavor, move it to jars and refrigerate it to slow down the fermentation. It will still ferment, FYI.

Timing tip: I recently figured out if I let the cabbage sit for about an hour in the bowl after salting, the salt pulls the water out of the cabbage on its own and the packing process is much faster. This step is worth its weight in sauerkraut.

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