If like me, you like Sauerkraut but can't find any unpasteurised in any shops near you,it is simple and very cheap to make. I wouldn't exactly call it quick however it really is worth the effort. Here is the most basic recipe with literally just cabbage and salt.
To make a basic Sauerkraut you will need:
1. A cabbage- a white is best, you can also use a red cabbage if that's what you have (any size will do)
2. Salt- I use organic sea salt- try not to use table salt as it has anti caking agents that will affect the fermentation process.
3. A large jar at least a 1ltr with a lid or 2 smaller ones.(be sure to make sure jars and lids are thoroughly cleaned)
4. A weight such as a smaller jar or glass that will fit into your larger fermenting jar, or a proper fermenting weight if you have one.
5. An airlock lid (optional) this is just a sure way to let CO2 out of the jar without having to manually do it yourself everyday.
6. Weighing scales
7. A large bowl
◉ Remove a couple of cabbage leaves from the cabbage and set aside.
◉ Chop your cabbage into the finest shred that you can manage. This part can take a long time and can be quite laborious however you can use a grater attachment on a food processor to make quick work of it or a mandolin. I hand cut it as I find grating it gives the finished dish less of a crunch and I don't yet own a mandolin!
◉ Once the cabbage is shredded, weigh it.
◉ Work out 2% of the total prepared weight of the shredded cabbage ie. the cabbage weighs 1045 gms, so 2% of 1045 would be 20.9gms. This amount will be used to weigh the salt that you will need.
◉Weigh your salt
◉Add the salt to your shredded cabbage (in a large bowl or pan) and massage the salt into the cabbage using your hands for approx 5 mins. This helps draw out some moisture from the cabbage. I like to leave my salt and cabbage sit for an hour and massage it a couple of times before putting it into the jar. I find this just helps it fit into the jar better and get's the brine going.
◉Once you have left your cabbage and salt sit and there is a bit of liquid coming out of the cabbage you can use a spoon or your hands to fill your jar/jars. Be sure to pour the brine from your bowl into the jar. (Sauerkraut doesn't have any water in the recipe, the brine comes from the moisture in the cabbage-a fresher cabbage will produce more liquid.)
◉Don't fill the jar right to the top as during the first 3-5 days, the fermenting liquid may rise and spill out of your jar if you overfill it, so you need a bit of room for expansion. If you think you will need more than one jar- use it.
◉ Put the cabbage leaf/leaves that you set aside before shredding the cabbage, into the jar/s over the top of the cabbage. This will help keep any floating strays down.
◉Place your weight (a smaller jar or a fermenting weight) into the jar on top of the leaf covered shredded cabbage and make sure it is pushed down nice and firm so that the cabbage is submerged under the brine. If there isn't quite enough brine started to submerge your cabbage straight away, you can still follow all these steps but check the brine level the next day- the cabbage will continue to release its moisture. If there is still not enough brine after 24hrs, add one tablespoon of salt to two cups of water and top up your jars to make sure the cabbage is submerged. Remember, the cabbage will reabsorb some of it's liquid in colder temperatures.
◉Pop the lid on. If you are using a lid without an airlock, don't tighten the lid too much as you will need to be able to let the CO2 escape (this is the scary part that may put people off making Sauerkraut- if you don't let the CO2 escape, the pressure will build up in the jar and will explode. Please don't let this put you off making it- it is unlikely to happen if you remember to not over tighten your lid. If you are concerned about this,just make sure to 'burp' your Kraut everyday particularly during the 3-7 day mark when the ferment will be the most active.Burping just means loosening the lid to let the CO2 escape and tightening it back up again. You can do this if you hear the jar hissing and you want to help release the gas quicker. I find the ferment won't need burping as much after the first week. Remember an anaerobic environment makes the Sauerkraut ferment properly which means keeping out as much oxygen as possible and making sure the cabbage stays under the brine so if you are burping the kraut don't take the lid off entirely and over do it (that means taking the lid off several times a day)
◉ If using an airlock on your lid, just pop the lid on and away you go!
◉ Leave it for 3-4 weeks for the beneficial bacteria to really take hold(you can eat it from as early as 7 days but the longer you leave it, the better it will be for you!) The ideal temperature for the ferment is between 18°C - 21°C (65-70°F) If you have warmer temps, your veg will ferment a lot quicker and slower with colder temps. So keep in mind your temperatures and adjust your overall fermentation times to compensate.
◉Once you have finished fermenting, put it in a cold place (the fridge is best) and it will keep for up to a year! If you are dubious,I find if it smells edible and tastes edible then it's perfectly ok. (you will undoubtedly know if something smells or tastes bad. If you see any coloured moulds then throw away the batch of Sauerkraut)
please note there are many different vessels and lids to ferment with however this is for the simplest version there is. People have been fermenting for thousands of years in earthen pots so you don't have to be super scientifically technical about it, follow the simple rules of 2% salinity and keep the food below the brine and the oxygen out and you will have successful fermented food. There may be slight hiccups along the way as there may be slight adjustments that have to be made but give it a try and you will be amazed at actually how easy it is and how delicious and nutritious fermenting food can be.
Please be aware that I, the author of this blog post, do not have any nutritional training or a health care expertise. The content of this blog post has not been evaluated by the (FDA)My tips and guides are based on experience and plenty of research. Please do not undertake any dietry changes without consulting a health care professional.