Sauerkraut makes itself -- you just mix the ingredients. It requires no coddling, doting or even precise measuring. Make classic sauerkraut with everyday supermarket-friendly white cabbage, but, for variety, any type of cabbage will do -- Napa, red and bok choy all ferment equally well. Size doesn't matter either; coarse, 1-inch pieces or thin, 1/4-inch shreds ferment in the same amount of time. You have only one loose guideline to follow to make sauerkraut in any quantity: Every 3 pounds of cabbage, or about 1 large head, requires at least 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt to start fermentation.
Things You'll Need
- Kosher salt
- Non-aluminum bowl
- Vegetables to taste (optional)
- Herbs and spices to taste (optional)
- Crock or glass jars
Peel, core and chop the cabbage. Portion 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt for every large head, or for every 3 pounds of cabbage you chopped.
Add the cabbage to a non-aluminum bowl in layers, sprinkling a little salt on each layer.
Add other chopped vegetables, such as carrots, greens, garlic, ginger, peppers, to the cabbage to taste.
Add herbs and spices to taste. Peppercorns, parsley, dill, bay leaf, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes and juniper berries are a few classic suggestions.
Mix the cabbage and pack it into a heavy crock, canning jar or sturdy food-grade plastic container. Punch the cabbage down forcefully into the container; you want to pop the cells and force out the water.
Set a weight on the cabbage that weighs a minimum of a few pounds for a large batch. A quart-sized glass jar filled with water does the job for a large batch. For smaller batches, a smaller jar filled with water works.
Cover the whole setup -- container and weight -- with a few layers of cheesecloth and tie twine around it to hold it in place; you want to keep out insects and debris while letting the cabbage breathe.
Set the cabbage aside to ferment. The ideal temperature for fermentation ranges from 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Press on the weight a few times a day to squeeze water out of the cabbage until it stays submerged. Taste the sauerkraut after 4 or 5 days of fermenting. Ferment the kraut longer for a stronger taste.
Transfer the sauerkraut to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator up to 3 months.