How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is always better when it’s homemade. Why? Because it’s much cheaper and healthier than the one found in the stores. One of the biggest sauerkraut benefits is the presence of all the healthy bacteria.
Unlike store-bought sauerkraut, homemade sauerkraut is not pasteurized. So, all the lactic acid bacteria are still there when we eat sauerkraut. It’s a great source of natural probiotics. If you were looking for the best sauerkraut recipe, you are at the right place.
The purpose of this post is to educate you on the sauerkraut benefits and how to make German sauerkraut. In the end, you’ll be able to make sauerkraut on your own to deal with your cravings for something vinegary and salty.
Why Homemade Sauerkraut?
From what we’ve said so far, it’s obvious why homemade sauerkraut is better. But that’s not enough. Let’s take a deeper look at why you should consider making sauerkraut at home instead of buying it from your nearest departmental store.
The first reason is the scarcity of authentic German restaurants. Although sauerkraut originated in ancient China, the credit for its evolution goes to the Germans. Even the sauerkraut found in high-end stores is not nearly as authentic.
So, the logical solution to finding authentic German sauerkraut is to make it at home. Another big reason is the health benefits. Cabbage becomes sauerkraut once it’s fermented using lactic acid. Lactic acid is full of healthy bacteria that helps our immune system.
The problems arise because commercial sauerkraut abandons the bacteria. Manufacturers cook the sauerkraut before shipping to cut down the cost. You can, of course, find name brand sauerkrauts that comes with all the lactobacillus bacteria, but they are crazy expensive.
To counter these issues without compromising the taste of savory sauerkraut, you should make your own. It’s cheap and it’s easy. It’s healthy as well. Without further ado, let’s get started on how to make homemade sauerkraut.
Choose the Right Equipment
When making the authentic sauerkraut, you should always opt for authentic methods to get the best results. If you really love German sauerkraut and look forward to making it often, it’s wise to invest in some equipment. They don’t cost so much as well.
- The Mason Jar Method
When it comes to making sauerkraut at home, nothing gets easier than the mason jar. Or a glass jar. Any size is applicable though most people tend to use half-gallon or larger to get the leverage of making a little more at once.
The next part is sealing the jar. You can go a few different ways. You can fill up a plastic bag with water and seal the jar. But it’s a janky way of doing things and the plastic has done enough harm to the universe already.
Another method is to use glass fermentation weights. They will effectively keep the cabbage under the brine water. Or use a smaller glass jar than the original one and fill up with water or rocks to keep the cabbage pressed.
The final way is to buy some fermentation lids. They are designed to help with any fermentation needs. Hence, they do the job very well. You can find them in cheap if you look on Amazon. Buy one and you are set.
- The Fermentation Crock Method
It’s the more traditional method of making homemade sauerkraut. Technically, it will cost less than investing in the mason jar, the glass weights, and the lids. Moreover, you will get very cool equipment to show off to your friends.
Let’s Make Some Sauerkraut
Now that you have a clear idea of what you need to make sauerkraut at home, we can get started with the best sauerkraut recipe. Let’s start with the ingredients first.
- 2 heads of cabbage
- 2% of Salt
And that’s it! That’s all you need to make delicious sauerkraut at home. Don’t let the 2% salt confuse you. It’s a general ratio for how much salt to add. If you want the perfect ration, measure the weight of the cabbage and add 2% salt of that total weight.
Now that you have the ingredients in your hand, let’s get started with the actual recipe.
- Get Things Clean
The first step is to get the cabbage clean. You should always opt for the freshest cabbage available while making homemade sauerkraut. Other than the cabbage, clean all the glassware or stoneware, your hands, and work surfaces thoroughly.
- Slicing the Cabbages
The next step is to slice the cabbages as finely as possible. First, cores and outer leaves should be removed. Cut the cabbage into four pieces for the ease of access. Now the cabbages have to be sliced into fine pieces. You can either use a knife or a food processor to get the desired result.
- Adding the Salt
Take a bowl from your clean cutlery set. Place the sliced cabbage in it. Start with sprinkling the salt all over the cabbage. Now squash the salted cabbage with your hands for about ten to fifteen minutes. It might seem like you are just wasting your time. But be patient.
Soon, the cabbage will release the water inside, thanks to the salt. Once, you think there is enough brine water to cover the cabbage in your mason jar or fermentation crock, stop. Add anything optional now if you want to, like caraway seeds.
You are almost done. It’s time to move the cabbage and brine water into the fermentation jar. It can either be a mason jar or a fermentation crock, it’s your choice. Start stuffing the cabbage into the jar tightly.
After putting all the cabbage into it, pour the brine water. If you think necessary, you can add a little water so that the cabbage is completely drowned. Fresh cabbage should release enough liquid to cover it properly.
It’s time to seal the jar or crock. If you are using a fermentation crock, the process is very simple. Just place the lid. But if you are using a mason jar, you can add another jar smaller in size on top of the cabbage and cover the open end with a cloth and some rubber bands. Or you can use the glass weights.
- Wait Patiently
Your job is done. Now it’s the bacteria’s job to ferment the cabbage and turn it into delicious sauerkraut. How long to ferment sauerkraut? Well, it’s a valid question to ask. The answer is two to five weeks.
It highly depends on the weather of the area that you live in and the tartness that you are aiming for. Start checking the sauerkraut after two weeks. How long to ferment sauerkraut will also depend on your taste bud.
You are making sauerkraut for yourself and we will let you be the judge. But popular belief is that sauerkraut tastes the best after two to three weeks of fermentation. If you see any bubble or foam on the sauerkraut during fermentation, don’t be afraid.
But if you see mold, it’s because the cabbage was not submerged properly. Just scrape the mold and make sure that the rest of the cabbage is fine.
Once the fermentation is done according to your preference, you can start eating it right away. If you want to develop the flavor even further, you can ferment it again. But if you want the taste to sustain, refrigerate it.
In cold temperatures, bacteria cannot operate. So, the fermentation will stop. But the bacteria will still be there and work as probiotic once you eat it.
After all this hassle you just went through, you deserve to enjoy your sauerkraut. Sauerkraut tastes amazing with soups, salads or any meat. Sauerkraut and sausage is a killer combination if you can get your hands on some great sausage.
Just cook the sauerkraut and sausage in the same skillet to let the flavors transfer. You can enjoy a great deal with German sauerkraut if you think of yourself as a food enthusiast.
When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade out of them. Similarly, when life gives your cabbages, you can make sauerkraut out of them. It’s a very well-known vegetable famous for Lacto-fermentation.
So, the next you crave sauerkraut, don’t go the store and buy some cheap jar that doesn’t even resemble the authentic sauerkraut. Instead, make your own at home. This post will work as your guide along the process. Remember, you are your best friend when it comes to making healthy food.
- Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Easy Countertop Method) – Wellness Mama
- Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe – Allrecipes