I’ve developed this homemade sauerkraut recipe after years of trial and error fermenting. Read on to learn about this easy and nutritious method for preserving your cabbage harvests!
Cabbage takes about three months to grow. It is a fantastic addition to the four-season garden because it grows well in cooler temperatures and therefore serves as the perfect ingredient for a homemade sauerkraut recipe. With a little frost protection, you can plant cabbage in late February in Zones 6 and 7. You can also plant it in the fall for a November harvest. Our favorite varieties are Early Jersey Wakefield because of its short growth cycle (56 days), Flat Dutch (because it is a nice size and shape for small batch cooking), and Ruby Perfection (because of color, flavor, and it seems more bug resistant than the green varieties). Once harvested, with a little chopping and salt, you can enjoy your cabbage for months once you learn the basics of homemade sauerkraut with this step-by-step guide.
Building the larder~
When we moved to Stony Ridge Farm, one of our early goals was to use the land to build a storage of food allowing us to make it through the winter with minimal reliance on Supermarkets. We were familiar with blanching and freezing, hot water bath canning, and dehydration as food preservation methods. Neither Bob nor I had any experience with fermentation.
I am a big fan of the weekly NPR radio program The Splendid Table. One Saturday afternoon, while working in the garden, I was listening and weeding and this guy named Sandor Katz was being interviewed by the show’s host. He wrote The Art of Fermentation and kicked off a national obsession with using fermentation for food preservation, I was hooked.
Cabbage, Salt and Time ~
In order to get started on your fermentation journey, all you will need is cabbage, salt, and time (It’s magic, really)! A head of cabbage (about 2 pounds), a tablespoon or two of sea salt, a sharp knife, a wide mouth mason jar…gather these ingredients and supplies and follow the directions below to create your first batch of kraut!
1 medium cabbage
2 tbs salt
Glass or wooden bowl
1-2 quart wide mouth mason jar and plastic cap
Small plastic baggie or fermentation weight
- After washing and drying the cabbages, remove 3-4 outer leaves of cabbage and set aside.
- Then, cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core.
- Chop cabbage thinly and place in a glass or wooden bowl.
- Add salt at a ratio of 1 tbsp per 1 quart of chopped cabbage (estimate). Start with less salt and add slowly until you have a medium saltiness in taste. Be warned, beginners often add too much salt to their first krauts.
- Using tamper begin to pound cabbage and salt mixture until you see moisture appear in the bowl. You are making a brine with the moisture from the cabbage and the salt. This won’t take long.
- Place cabbage, salt, and all the fluids into your mason jar. Use the tamper to press this mixture firmly into the mason jar, removing all air pockets.
- Fold cabbage leaves and place them over the top of the cabbage mixture to form a covering over the entire surface. Use the tamper to submerge the leaves.
- In order to finish the preparation, fill your plastic baggie about 1/4 – 1/2 full with water or a brine mixture (1 tbs salt/quart of water). Place this on top of your cabbage leaves. It forms an airtight seal over the cabbage and helps protect from mold growth. Gently place a plastic cap on the mason jar, do not seal tightly but leave loose to allow the fermentation to breathe. Some place a cloth or coffee filter over the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band. Here, you’re just trying to let the ferment vent without allowing contaminants into the jar.
- Place the jar on a cookie sheet and leave on a shelf out of direct sunlight for 3-5 days. After the 2-3 days, remove baggie, remove cabbage leaves and set aside. Taste your kraut. If it is as sour as you like, move the jar with the cabbage leaves and water-filled baggie to the refrigerator. Once complete, your homemade sauerkraut will be ready to eat at any time and will be good for months.
- For more information, please visit this link.
Mix It Up a Bit
If you are successful with your first batch of sauerkraut and want to mix things up a bit, try these additions:
- Sliced onions, one medium onion per head of cabbage
- Grated carrots, 1-2 carrots per head of cabbage
- Caraway seed, 1/4 teaspoon per head of cabbage
Leave a comment below letting me know how it goes!