|My jars of home made sauerkraut|
Each type of cabbage has its own health benefits by mixing 3 different types, I was hoping to gain the nutritional advantages of all of them. Or who knows, maybe none of them. Either way, it was delicious!
An overview of what we're going to do. We're going to shred cabbage and salt it, and pulverize it. Then, we're going to leave it submerged under water - at room temperature - for a week or two.
This may fly in the fact of everything you've learned about food safety, but trust me, this is how people have preserved foods for thousands of years, before the advent of modern refrigeration.
So, onto the recipe!
You will need a proper vessel to make this in - and a STRONG, STURDY plate that fits just inside the circumference. I for one use a 5 gallon food safe bucket that was originally intended to brew beer in, but is now my kraut bucket.
5LBS of cabbage.
3TBSP KOSHER salt. You need non-iodized salt or pickling salt. Iodized will kill the bacteria.
Optional: Spices. Juniper berries are classic and marvelous. Caraway seeds are also traditional and marvelous. Use 1 TBSP of one or the other (or both if you'd like!) for added flavor and deliciousness. You can also add other chopped or shredded vegetables - I made a batch with a large onion thrown in and a whole head of garlic, fermented along with the cabbage. It REEKED to high heaven - but let me tell you, that was some awesome kraut! You can add whatever vegetables you'd like really - they'll ferment nicely and all their own kick to the kraut. Get wild, experiment!
1) Shred the cabbage as thinly as you can / as you want. As you shred it, once you have a layer of cabbage, sprinkle it with some of the salt. Not too much, you have to make it last for the whole 5 pounds! Shred another layer of cabbage. Now, using your fists, smash the hell out of the cabbage. Push it down, driving the salt into the cabbage. Give it a good 20 fists:) Add more salt, another layer of cabbage, repeat.
Keep doing this until you've shredded all the cabbage and used up all the salt. You'll see long before you're done that the cabbage is oozing water, the salt drawing it out via osmosis. This is good, as it's the water that will make an anaerobic seal to let the cabbage ferment properly. You can also use a large mallet or even the end of a baseball bat (CLEAN! EVERYTHING MUST BE CLEAN!) to pound the cabbage. You'll see that you're squeezing a lot of water from the cabbage.
This step should take you a little under 1 hours time to shred it nice and thin and pound it with the salt.
2) Put the plate on top of the cabbage and put a weight on top. A bowling ball? A gallon jug of water? I personally use a 5 gallon glass container that I fill with water. What this does is applies constant pressure on the cabbage to squeeze the water from it. Cover the container up, and leave it for 24 hours.
3) One day has passed. For me, very often the water has not risen above the plate yet, so I add more brine. Add brine until the cabbage and plate is submerged. 1tsp / cup of water is sufficient.
Thats it! Cover the container and let it sit and ferment. Within a couple of days, you will be able to smell the difference. Fermentation takes at least a week and can go for much longer, I'd say try your kraut after 3-4 days to see how it tastes, and be ready to give it at least a week or two to fully mature.
BE AWARE. A whitish scum like substance will form on the surface of the water. Depending on who you ask, this is bacteria, or mold, or "scum", or "bloom", or yeast... whatever it is, it's non toxic, just scoop it off the top with a spoon. The kraut itself is fine and safe so long as it's under the water.
Once it's ready, spoon it into jars with some of the liquid and save. And enjoy. It's wonderful on game meats, poultry, hot dogs, or all kinds of other things. It's easy, inexpensive, and so so tasty and delicious. Once you see how easy and cheap it is to make, you'll wonder why you ever bought the store packaged stuff :) Cabbage, and fermented cabbage, is one of the best things you can eat to ward off cancer and other chronic illnesses, so eat up, don't be shy, and enjoy your delicious vegetables - fermented!
Let me know - what do YOU like adding YOUR sauerkraut to ?