how to make sauerkraut

sauerkrautcityhippyfarmgirl

I felt pretty satisfied looking down at my kitchen bench. Sure it looked ridiculously crowded, and if someone had asked for a sandwich at that particular moment, I would have had to point them in the opposite direction…but. There was still that sense of satisfaction.

Satisfaction in the form of my bench tops being full of bacteria, and lots of it. There was the ever-present sourdough starter bulking up and bubbling away, there was the slowly sprouting buckwheat, gaining little green tails. There were kefir grains in the wings waiting, and the new guy who only speaks a little English… Herr Sauerkraut.

I’d finally taken the plunge, and had jumped in. I had been put off by pictures, wafty smells and stories of mouldy cabbages. Also the length of time to do it and having no bench space or proper pot to make it in. Saskia and I had talked of it awhile ago and then there it sat. A suggestion, a hint, sauerkraut were you going to happen?

sauerkraut

first day

I looked up lots of recipes and decided that a quick and easy version using sugar, and vinegar seemed like a good option. Twenty minutes cooking no problem!

But I held back. I make sourdough, I make yogurt, I sprout things, I wanted to try kefir, was I really going to be content with a twenty minute version or should I try and do it properly?

Well, put it like that and there sat my answer…get going girl.

Half a cabbage cut as finely as possible. In a bowl with two teaspoons of salt and crunch it all up in your hands. Breaking it down, releasing the juices. (Unless you have arms of steel, I crunched it a bit and then left it, going back and forth over the next half an hour or so.) Then in a clean glass jar, squash it all in with the juices sitting at the top, (it breaks down a lot.) My half cabbage was quickly nothing in size and I wished I had more to put in there. Lesson learnt for next time. I’d kept one outer leaf to put over the top of the cabbage mixture and then some muslin and a rubber band over top.

cityhippyfarmgirl

a few days in, and the colour has changed

Now the waiting. One week to 6 months is how long you can leave it. Due to teeny tiny kitchen bench spaces, I was not going to be waiting 6 months. Projects were lining up on the bench tops and a week was all I was giving it.

Taking the muslin off, the outer cabbage leaf out and sticking my nose in, what do we have? Bless my birkinstocks if we don’t have sauerkraut.

That was ridiculously easy, and now I’ve got a lovely batch of sauerkraut sitting in my fridge ready to be teamed up with…well pretty much everything, (including the reuben sandwich.)

sauerkraut

 How about you, have you made sauerkraut? Does the fermenting world entice you or scare the pants off you?

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44 thoughts on “how to make sauerkraut

  1. I have never made sauerkraut. I had no idea it was that simple and that so few ingredients were involved. It’s certainly a great way to use up cabbages and this wouldn’t cost much at all to make. I’d love one of you Reuben sandwiches! xx

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  2. oh..no brydie..don’t tempt the weak with more exciting fermentation experiments! seriously though..it sounds easy and it looks good and i can imagine a homemade sourdough roll with a good quality snag, a dollop of mustard and your sauerkraut..x

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    • Jane, please do it 🙂 Fermentation is my favourite word at the moment, so there is a whole lot of bubbling bacteria on my benches at the moment. The more fermenting friends the better.
      As for the sourdough roll, snag, mustard and sauerkraut? Did that, and the verdict was a happy one.

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  3. I’ve never ventured further into the world of fermentation but I love your description of the ‘bench full of bacteria’, ha! Bacteria can sometimes be a beneficial thing! I love sauerkraut. It’s pretty cheap at my local market so I’ve never thought to make it for myself…. but you may have changed my mind! Thanks Brydie. It’s very fulfilling to make things at home for yourself. Particularly if it’s a ‘waiting game’ and you finally get some pay off for your investment of patience! xx

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  4. Yay Brydie! You made it! I can’t wait to try it myself, especially now I know it’s so easy. Your first photo is just perfection. Can you send some over please? My pastrami sanga is crying out for some.

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  5. I was wondering too about what you put in this when I read it earlier, but it looks very convincing and speedy too. What does it smell like? I am soo tempted to try your quick and easy version. Lacto bacteria are such wonderful things 🙂 So did you manage to source some water kefir? Michaelawah left a comment on my blog the other day offering to send you some if you were having difficulties finding them. He blogs at ofbreadandquinces and has an awesome looking waterkefir sage and hazelnut loaf going on over there xx

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    • Joanna it smells just like normal sauerkraut. I’ve just finished another batch, so it’s sitting in the fridge slowly getting demolished as well. I think I’m still a little surprised at just how easy it really was. I’m not sure what a 6 month old one would smell like, but I”m very happy with the week old one. (I’m rather partial to a swiss cheese, sauerkraut, mustard and sourdough sandwich at the moment.)

      *will pop over re. kefir

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  6. Indeed I have made it. Only I made it in a grand, large, pickle jar made of stone. It stayed fermenting in my pantry cupboard. Perhaps I made too much (there were a dozen cabbages involved) but for the work involved in hauling that stone jar out and back in and the HUGE amount it made, I started searching for stor- bought again (in the little glass jars). Too much work!

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  7. I just rinsed my hands so I could type. I’m making this right now. Decided on a whole head of cabbage based on your comment, as we really love to eat this stuff. In a week or so I’ll report on how my attempt turned out.

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  8. Day 5, and yes, the bubbles stopped. Just tasted it, and it’s quite sour. A sour cabbage scent, I quess is how I’d describe it. The large leaf of cabbage on top has some black spots, but I don’t think it’s mould – just discolouration. I hope. It’s not fuzzy like mould.

    Did you rinse the brine off before eating it?

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    • Yes, the cabbage leaf changed colour for me but didn’t have any mould on it and it didn’t effect the sauerkraut that it might have been touching underneath. The brine I just kept in there and drained off before it was eaten, so not too soggy. Drained, not rinsed though.
      Out of curiosity, what’s the weather like, how warm is it in your kitchen at the moment?

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      • I have it on a shelf in my pantry, door closed, where it’s a constant 24c during the day and only a smidge lower at night.I think I’ll give it a few more days, just to see if the flavour sours more. What’s the temp where you stored yours?

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      • I’m guessing between 18-20 at the moment Misky…ohhh, I’m nervous! I hope yours works and you are happy with the taste! I really am hooked on the stuff at the moment, I’m drawing the line at breakfast, but lunch and dinner are certainly getting a look in 🙂

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      • You shouldn’t be nervous. It had a good sour flavour cooking in that jar. I’m just of two minds about the amount of salt used. I used Danish cooking salt that has no additives or iodine, but it also has a larger grain (like it’s chipped – not fine) so I added more than 2 tsp for my whole cabbage to make up for that. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

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  15. I’m drooling thinking of the sauerkraut I made a couple of times. So much better than the bought stuff but not sure if I’d make it here in the tropics in summer. Winter here now so I should get to it!

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