I’m so excited to share a recipe for Sauerkraut today! There are a million versions of this delicious probiotic condiment. Today I’m using red cabbage and carrots. This is a simple, straight forward recipe that is perfect for beginner fermenters!
There can be some initial anxiety if you have never fermented anything before. You may wonder if what you have made is safe to eat!
Humans have been preserving food through fermentation for thousands of years. Its easy, safe and fosters the bacteria that you need for a healthy digestive system.
Contamination is the enemy, so be careful to wash surfaces, hands and containers and start with clean veggies. Keep your kraut submerged under brine and keep the container covered to avoid contamination from yeasts and mold. With some common sense and a sense of culinary adventure, you too can make kraut!
Ingredients and Tools:
1 medium head Organic Red Cabbage
3 medium Organic Carrots
Pink Himalayan Salt
Jar and lid
Knife or mandolin
Step One: Shred your cabbage. You can slice it with a knife, or use a mandolin. I love fine shreds so I prefer the mandolin.
Step Two: Shred the three carrots. My mandolin has a julienne feature so that is what I’ve used. The large holes of a cheese grater would work just as well.
Step Three: Mix carrots cabbage and salt in a large bowl. The amount of salt in the recipe can vary. It is possible to make Kraut with no salt at all, but its not recommended. I usually shoot for 2 Tablespoons per medium head of cabbage (about the size of a child’s soccer ball). Monstrous cabbages will need more salt. Cover the mixture and let rest for ~15 minutes. While its resting, the salt will pull moisture out of the cabbage.
Step Four: Massage your cabbage. Get your hands in there and give it a squeeze! The goal there is to break some cell walls and release more moisture to make the brine. If things are still dry, cover it up and let it rest for another 15 minutes and give it another massage. When there is about a 1/2 cup of liquid at the bottom of your bowl, you are ready for the next steps.
Step Five: Taste your kraut. It should be pleasantly salty. Its easier to add a bit more salt than to rinse too much salt out so start with small amounts.
Step Six: Pack your kraut into jars. The jar I’m using here had a former life holding pickled peppers. I live a low waste lifestyle and this jar was the perfect size to fit this whole head of cabbage. Reduce – Recycle – Reuse! I used a bamboo muddler to pack down my kraut. This is a bartenders tool that would be used to crush the mint in a mojito. Press down to squeeze out all the air bubbles and more brine, so that the liquid rises up to cover the mixture. Pour any extra brine that has collected at the bottom of the mixing bowl into the jar. Pack the mixture down until there are 2 inches of head space for the mixture to expand.
Step Seven: Screw the lid on loosely. The bacteria that preserve the kraut will make carbon dioxide as they do their work. If these can’t get out you may have an explosion on your hands! Place the jar in a warm spot in your kitchen, on a plate or in a bowl to catch any overflow.
Step Eight: Leave on the counter at 70-75 Degrees for 3 days. Things should start to bubble around 24 hours. Keep an eye on the level of brine. The kraut may need to be pressed back down below the liquid. Use a clean spoon or mallet every time. The bacteria in our mouths are bad for ferments. Be very careful not to contaminate your kraut in the early stages.
Around day three, you will start to see the color change from a deep bluish purple to a bright magenta pink. This is a colorful indicator of a drop in pH and one of the many reasons I love red cabbage. This color change means that lactic acids are developing as a all those good-for-you probiotics pickle your kraut. After day three, you can taste it and if it is pleasantly tangy and sour, move it to the fridge. You can leave Kraut to ferment on the counter for longer if its not quite sour enough for you. Keep tasting it every couple of days and move to the fridge when it suits your taste buds. The longer it sits on the counter, the more acids will develop, giving kraut its tart and tangy flavor.
Traditional Russian recipes promote leaving your kraut to ferment at room temperature for 2 weeks or more, and claim that the full flavor profile only develops after six months of cold storage. I always eat mine before the 6 month mark. Its too tasty to last that long!
A quick note about safety: Keep the kraut completely underneath the brine or it will spoil! Never lick a spoon and put it back in the jar. If a smooth, or wrinkled white film forms on the surface of the brine, scoop it off. This is kham yeast and will effect the flavor if left to develop, but is not harmful. If fuzzy or furry white, green, blue, black, or grey mold shows up in your kraut – toss it in the trash. Some molds are not harmful, but some are toxic and the toxins they produce spread beyond the fuzzy bits. Its not worth it to roll the dice with mold. Use your common sense and DO NOT eat anything that smells or looks spoiled.
Thanks for stopping by and please let me know how this recipe turns out for you!