The making of sauerkraut is simplicity itself. It requires very clean conditions, but only a few ingredients. I love sauerkraut on sandwiches (with corn beef and swiss cheese), in a salad, with sausages, and just by itself. Believe it or not, I will have this as a nighttime snack. I have tried this with a couple of different types of cabbage, and different ingredients, but I feel the Napa cabbage tastes best. A great recipe for good ol’ plain sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is similar to Kimchi, with obvious differences in the spicing. There are a fair number of different recipes, with wine or without, with caraway or without, etc .. I prefer the following simpler recipes. I prefer not to use caraway.
- Mandolin or Food Processor
- 5 lbs Nappa Cabbage
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 5 garlic cloves (I love garlic so I use 5 cloves, you can decrease)
- ¼ to ½ cyo white wine (it depends on how much liquid you have in the sauerkraut. This can be used to “top” off the jars since you want the cabbage well below the level of the liquid)
- ½ cup fennel seeds
- When I ferment, can or make pickles, I observe scrupulous cleaning. I wash all of the jars in the dishwasher just before filling them. If making sauerkraut, kimchi or refrigerator pickles, I wash the lids as well. I include the nipple lids in the washing if fermenting.
- Cut out the hard inner core of the cabbage, then into quarters. Cut the cabbage sliced into 1/8 inch thick. Many recipes suggest a Mandolin or food processor. But for me a good kitchen knife works just fine.
- Place the cabbage into a large bowl, initially add 1 ½ TBS of salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage. Start with ½ of the cabbage, then add the other half of the cabbage and the salt massaging throughout. Let this sit for 30 minutes. Do not discard the liquid that forms.
- Add the thinly sliced garlic and the fennel seeds and mix well.
- Add the wine (use more to top off the jars if necessary).
- Place the cabbage mixture either in a crock or a large glass Mason jar.
- Using a sauerkraut tamper, tamp down the cabbage firmly. This helps eliminate air pockets.
- There will be natural brine produced by the water from the cabbage and the salt. But make sure the liquid covers the cabbage.
- Place one large piece of cabbage over the top of the sauerkraut. Place a weight (glass weights work very well, are inexpensive and easy to find on-line).
- Place a fermentation vent in the lid, these come in many types. I use the ones with a small nipple, a very simple approach that has always worked for me.
- You can eat this immediately or ferment the sauerkraut. The length of time depends on taste. I like it fermented for 1-6 weeks or even longer. It will get better flavor the longer they ferment, but most times, I just can't wait past about 1-2 weeks.
- If you have any questions about fermenting, look on-line. Lots of good sites to answer your questions and problems.