- One medium head of green or red cabbage
- canning/pickling salt or sea salt
Shred the cabbage.
I cut the cabbage in half or into quarters to remove the core. Some cabbages are so juicy they split with the first insert of a knife, especially garden picked cabbage harvested after a rain. I choose to cut my cabbage very thin, others like it chunky. The cut you choose will not effect the fermenting process. I have arthritis in my hands so I use my food processor to cut up the cabbage using the slicing blade. It is super fast this way.
Measure the salt out in advance. 3 tbsp salt for One medium 5lb cabbage. When the processor bowl is full, empty into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Do these layers until the entire head of cabbage is sliced and all of the salt is used.
Pack in Jars.
Use a glass bowl, wooden, or a stainless steel bowl for mixing the kraut. The key is you are looking for a non-reactive container and stirring utensils . The final storing vessel MUST not be something that will react with the natural juices. I have some very old ceramic crocks I have used in the past, but I stopped using them until I can test the glazing for lead content. I also stopped using all plastics because of toxins in the plastics, even plastic marked BPA free are not really safe because companies may be using loop holes to side step regulations.
Smash it with a wooden spoon or use your hands to bruise the cabbage until the juices start to flow. Start packing it into the jars, I use the handle of a wooden spoon to smash it down. Continue packing and pressing down until the jars are full. Remove all air bubbles. Press it down until the juice covers the cabbage. The salt will draw out the natural cabbage juices. Take one of the outer cabbage leaves and cut it to be a little larger than the top of your jar. Use it as a covering to hold down all the cabbage pieces. The juice should cover this leaf. I use a piece of wax paper and a canning ring to cover the jar. Add the date so you can determine when your kraut should be done.
Put the jars in a area that stays between 50-70 F. Warmth speeds up the fermenting process. Keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum by placing in a dark cabinet out of direct sunlight. Place the jars in the refrigerator only after the fermenting process is complete.
How long should you ferment your sauerkraut? Until you like the taste, texture and tang of your sauerkraut! After all, you have to like it to eat it. You should ferment it at least 10 days to get enough beneficial microbes but three weeks is the preferred time-lapse.
One medium 5 lb. cabbage will make approximately 2 quart sized jars of kraut.
Tips: If you are purchasing the cabbage at a store select the freshest looking head. There is less juice in older stored cabbage. Weigh the cabbage at the store when you buy it if you do not have a food scale for a basic measurement, removing the core and a few outer leaves will subtract about 1 pound of weight. For every 5 pounds of cabbage you will add 3 tablespoons of pickling salt.