Sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented foods to make at home. It can be made with the simplest ingredients: cabbage, salt, and water.
The process is easy. Start with a fresh cabbage and chop it up. Some folks like to shred it or grate it, that’s personal preference. I like a rough chop.
Then salt is added. I typically use kosher salt, but any salt could be used (yielding different results). This week’s food experiment used a small amount of smoked salt and kosher salt. I usually serve the sauerkraut with pork and I thought the smoked salt would pair nicely. (The smoked salt is the suspicious looking bag on the right.)
I mix the cabbage with my hands, warming it up in the process. I let the cabbage sit for about an hour while the salt works to draw the juice out of the cabbage. After the brief wait I stuff the cabbage into a glass locking lid jar. I have learned from trial and error that I need to leave 1″ to 2″ of free space or else it tries to escape and wastes precious sauerkraut juice.
I make sure the brine covers the cabbage, if it doesn’t it can be topped off with water (some people use distilled water, but I use spring water or filtered water). The fresher the cabbage the less likely you will need the water.
Then comes the patience part. I let it sit for about a week or so before I refrigerate the kraut at it’s flavor peak. You can taste it as you go until you find the flavor you’re pursuing. If it’s cold out it could take longer.
Sometimes I eat the finished product raw, but usually I slow cook the sauerkraut with pork. Throw in some onions, fresh dill and potatoes and it’s a meal.
And that is the beauty of fermentation! Cabbage to kraut to meal. I typically make my kraut and save it for that specific craving.