Making sauerkraut at home
Our reuben sandwiches never tasted better, by using my homemade sauerkraut. Have you always wondered how to make sauerkraut? It’s a fairly easy process, and a good place to start your journey into fermenting.
Sauerkraut was the first thing I decided to ferment. Why? Well, because it is cheap to buy, easy to find, readily available, and it is supposed to be pretty easy to ferment.
There are affiliate links all throughout this post. See disclaimer. I have received a set of Fermentools in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews.
I want to talk a little bit about the process. For some ferments you will make a water and salt solution called a brine, but for this you do not have to do this. It will actually make its own brine. If you add a little salt (using specific amounts called for in a recipe) and then massage the cabbage a brine will form.
I had a little bit of a hard time with this. Although, from my research it is very apparent that if you do not have a fresh cabbage that this is normal. Since I did not have fresh cabbage straight from my garden, (which is currently nonexistent) I had to buy some from the store. I assumed that it would not be super fresh. I did read that you can add a little bit of extra salt to help the cabbage a bit in making its own brine. I did have to do this, and the last time I massaged it, I did it more like a deep tissue massage!
Okay, so a tiny bit more salt and a deep tissue massage did the trick! I had enough brine to do a small batch. I have read that some people let their it ferment for a couple months or more! I am a little impatient. I did not have mine ferment that long. Not everyone does it this way. Everyone seems to have different opinions about how long is right. I think I will maybe try to find some fresh cabbage to try that out one day.With the batch that I made I let it ferment for 2 weeks. I think the trick is to taste the ferments to see when they are done. When I tried the kraut it tasted pretty good to me! I was afraid to let it go for too long because I did not want it to go bad. I am glad that I made this decision because it is has warmed up this week, and I am afraid it would be a little too hot for the ferment to do very well.
How to make sauerkraut
Cook/prepare food properly! This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclaimer.
- 1 whole head of Cabbage, look for a shiny one it may contain more moisture inside which is needed to make the brine!
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Himalayan Powder Salt, using a good quality salt is very VERY important!
- 1 whole leaf from the cabbage to keep the little bits of cabbage from surfacing
Using high quality tools is very important. It will help ease your journey into fermenting!
- I suggest get at least a starter pack from Fermentools but if you can get a six or twelve pack it is a really great deal! Plus you can do bigger batches this way!
- 3 Airlocks
- 3 Rubber Gaskets
- 3 Glass weights
- 3 Stainless steel lids with a hole in the center
- 3 Wide mouth quart size Mason jars
- 3 #2 Stoppers with through hole
Wash all of your tools in warm water with soap.
Make sure that you do not use antibacterial soap, it could mess with the production of good bacteria.
*Once you get the food in the mason jar, be sure to only use non-reactive utensils, like chopsticks for example are great to use! Metal like forks, and some plastics can cause negative reactions to the ferments.
- Rinse the cabbage in cool water.
- Slice up cabbage very thinly and place it in a large bowl
- Add half of the salt
- Now massage that cabbage like it has a bad backache! Remember DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE!
- Have a little taste and see if you can taste the salt. It should not be too overbearing. If you cannot really taste it add a little more salt, and continue to massage it.
- Do you have a pool of brine forming now?
- If not, and you have massaged it really well, you can cover it with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Check on the cabbage to see if it has enough brine, if it still does not have enough brine massage it again.
- You should have enough brine by now.
- You can start packing the cabbage into the mason jar now, using a non-reactive utensil. Like the butt end of a wooden rolling pin.
- Pack it really tightly! Push push push!
- Add the cabbage leaf, once you have enough cabbage in the jar with about 3 inches worth of head space. In the picture there is much more head space than that. I did not realize how much I could squish it down even more after I got the glass follower on there!
- Now add your glass follower, and push down once again just to get as much air out from around the cabbage.
If you are using these awesome Fermentools, it is really easy to assemble the the rest, just place the rubber gasket around the top of the lid, and then the stainless steel plate, now the beige stopper, and now the air lock.
Where to store your fermenting foods…
Now, when you are fermenting these foods need to be placed away from direct sunlight. If you have a pantry or maybe a cupboard where it will fit that would be a good place for it. You could also store it in a basement if you have one of those. I have read some stories of how people had these huge crocks full, stored in the basement! Sounds awesome!
Remember I said earlier that people have many different ideas for how long to let it ferment. I think the best way is to taste it every 2 or 3 days, or maybe longer with sauerkraut, and when it tastes good it is ready. Remember to use non-reactive utensils!
What to do with the it when it is done fermenting?
It is time to put it in the fridge! If you are using Fermentools, you can use the handy beige stopper that has no hole in it. Or you can use the canning lid that comes with the jar when you bought it.
I like to use a wide mouth canning lid, so that I can continue to ferment more goodies! Yum!
One more tip…
Update: I have heard that if you let your ferment sit for about a week in the fridge, it will mellow a bit. The second ferment I made I could really see that to be true! I have not eaten it, since I put it in the fridge, because I am waiting to get a day with my husband so we can have our traditional reuben sandwiches together. I can’t wait to use my homemade sauerkraut!
We love food. It is as simple as that. Reuben sandwiches are just one of those things that we have bonded over. We usually make them together and enjoy them together. Good times… Hopefully soon we will be able to break in the new homemade sauerkraut! I am so happy that you came to read my in depth view on how to make sauerkraut. I hope that you enjoyed it!
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