Preserve the Season

Recipe: Simple Sauerkraut

simple sauerkraut recipe

Tailored for her small and large fermentation jars, this simple sauerkraut recipe from Berkeley maker Sarah Kersten is one of our favorites.

The best-known type of lacto-fermented vegetables in the U.S. and much of Europe is sauerkraut. With just shredded cabbage and salt as the base, juniper berries or caraway seeds are traditionally added as seasonings.

To make rainbow kraut, consider adding red beets and carrots. That’s is just the beginning – the possibilities are endless!

Sarah kindly provides two different measurements for making kraut to fill her two different jar sizes.

Large Fermentation Jar
9 lbs cabbage
3 tablespoons salt

Small Fermentation Jar
3-4 lbs cabbage
1.5-2 tablespoons salt

Before you begin, reserve two or three large outer leaves from the cabbage for later use. Chop or shred the rest of the cabbage.

For the large fermentation jar, transfer half of the shredded cabbage to a large bowl, and sprinkle it with two tablespoons of salt.

For the small fermentation jar, place all cabbage into a large bowl with 1-2 teaspoons of salt.

Crush the cabbage and massage with your hands and fists for five to 10 minutes, or until it has released water and become a different shade of green. The volume of the cabbage will decrease considerably.

Taste the cabbage. It should be pleasantly, definitively salty – saltier than you would want it to be if you were going to eat a whole meal of it, but not so salty that you don’t want to eat any more of it.

Add less salt and your kraut will be softer; more salt and it will be crunchier. Continue massaging.

For the large fermentation jar, add the rest of the cabbage and more salt to the bowl. Once some cabbage has started to break down and make natural brine water, it’s easy to add more cabbage and keep massaging. Massage for 5 to 10 more minutes. Taste cabbage again and add more salt as needed.

Place handfuls of massaged cabbage into the crock. Pack it down as you go to eliminate air pockets.

When you’ve finished, layer the large cabbage leaves you set aside on top; they’ll help keep the massaged cabbage in place.

Place the ceramic weights that come with the jars on top of the cabbage leaves.

If there isn’t enough naturally occurring brine water to fully submerge your cabbage and the weights, add a little brine water.

Choose somewhere stationary to keep your crock. Fill the water seal, put the lid on the crock, and wait. The suggested duration of fermentation is between 10 days and several weeks.

A lightly fermented kraut will taste fresh compared to a more complex, lengthier ferment. Make sure the lid stays on the jar during fermentation to maintain the beneficial water seal, and add extra water to the seal periodically to compensate for evaporation.

Most of all, experiment! See what you like. Let your kraut ferment longer; eat it sooner. Get comfortable with the process and you’ll soon be wanting to lacto-ferment everything you can!

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