Homemade Sauerkraut

The past month has been ridic. So ludicrous, I can barely even type up this blog post without resorting to using irritating abbreviations when describing my current state of affairs. In the past month, I’ve taken 3 decently long trips (one out of state), and in the next 3 weeks, I have 2 more coming up (one of these also being out of state). I’ve run myself pretty ragged and have been sick for an entire month as proof. I caught a nice, nasty little cold which lingered for like 2 1/2 weeks and then immediately after I was finally feeling well again, I came down with ANOTHER, much worse, one. It seems my body is extremely wise and knows when to nudge me in the direction of “chill the hell out” when it needs to.

Needless to say, I’ve had no time to blog and absolutely zero energy for the gym and/or movement of any kind. My “cooking” as of late has consisted of boiling lentils, the occasional egg fry, and when necessary, takeout.

And when I’m feeling this way, my creativity runs a weeeee bit dry. Like, picture the Sahara in the summer.

Despite all of this, as I sit here nursing this second cold, I can’t help but get all warm and fuzzy (and not from a fever) reminiscing about all the recent gallivanting I’ve been doing. Napa, Berkeley, San Luis Obispo, Joshua Tree, and Portland. Next up, Seattle and Whidbey Island and then San Francisco. They have all been delicious. And I wouldn’t trade them for all the NyQuil in the Cold and Flu aisle at CVS.

Since my recent travels, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need more DIY projects; they exercise that primitive “I can do it myself” muscle, no? They’re fantastic that way. This post is dedicated to the crunchy, refreshing, salty *healing* batch of ‘kraut in my fridge because it turned out 1000x better than I ever imagined. Prior to this project I held this strange, completely untenable belief that sauerkraut only belongs on sausages. Damn, was I wrong. This stuff is disappearing right in front of my eyes (and into my mouth)…I’m putting heaps of it on my salads, eating it along with my roasted salmon and veggies, and scarfing it down plain straight from the jar. Best of all- it’s really simple. The steps may look daunting, but that’s only because I’m thorough af so y’all don’t f*ck it up. The process itself is child’s play.

Sauerkraut is totally rad- when the cabbage gets submerged in its salty brine, the bacteria Lactobacillus converts the sugars of the veggie into lactic acid, thereby acting as its own preservative. Plus, this healthy bacteria has the same body nourishing benefits as the probiotics in a bowl of yogurt.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Makes: ~4 cups

Ingredients/Equipment You’ll Need:

  • 1 medium head organic green cabbage, outer leaves removed and set aside, washed, cored and shredded
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, but recommended)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional, but recommended)
  • 2-quart mason jar or canning jar (with a tight-fitting sealable lid)
  • Clean stones, marbles, or other weights (for weighing down kraut)
  • Cheese cloth, thin clean dish towel, or coffee filter
  • Rubber band or string
  • Wooden spoon

Directions for DIY Kraut:

  1. First, wash errethang, child. Give your hands a good washing, as well as the jar and whatever it is you are using to weight the kraut down with (stones, marbles, or other weights).
  2. Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over it. Massage the salt into the cabbage firmly, until cabbage becomes watery, soft, and supple. This will take about 7-10 minutes, and at first you may wonder “is this enough salt??” followed by “all this massaging…JEEZUZ, this cabbage gonna tip or what??” The answer is yes, followed by a no. See, as the salt gets incorporated into the cabbage, it weakens it and waters it down naturally. It will sort of look like coleslaw.
  3. Next, mix in the caraway seeds, if using.
  4. Place shredded cabbage, handful by handful, into the bottom of jar, using your fists to really pack it in there as you fill it to the top. At some point, toss in the garlic, if using. Try to pack it densely. When done, pour remaining liquid that was leftover in the bowl of massaged cabbage over the top.
  5. Take one of the outer cabbage leaves you set aside and place on top of the cabbage when it’s all packed in there to prevent it from rising. Use the clean stones/marbles/weights and place them over the cabbage. What you want to do is keep the cabbage submerged in its own liquid “brine”.
  6. Cover the top of the jar with cheese cloth/dish towel/coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. This allows it to breathe (see last photo above).
  7. Place jar somewhere it won’t get blasted by sunlight and will stay pretty room temp (around 65-75 degrees F). I put mine in our pantry. Over the next 24 hours, every so often take the covering off the top of the jar and use the handle of a clean wooden spoon to press down on the weights, ensuring the cabbage stays submerged. As it sits, the cabbage will release enough liquid to cover the top of itself. If for some funky reason this ain’t the case and you’ve waited the full 24 hours and the cabbage isn’t fully submerged in the “brine”, dissolve 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in 1 cup of water and pour in enough so the cabbage is fully covered. When done, replace the covering on the jar with the rubber band and put it back in its room temp spot.
  8. Keep the jar in that room temp spot for 3-10 days, until its fermented to your liking. Once a day, repeat the process with the wooden spoon handle, pressing down to make sure the cabbage is fully covered by liquid. Taste it after 3 days; if it’s “krauty” enough for you, go ahead and remove the weights, throw the actual can lid on, and refrigerate for consumption (you can eat it as soon as you like). If not, wait it out and taste it everyday after you press down on the weights until it’s the flavor you fancy. Note: if at any point you see bubbles, white scum, or mold, do not freakkkk. It’s just fermentation doin’ its thang…simply scrape off the gunk and keep going. The sauerkraut will stay good in the fridge for a couple months. Yee, mighty krauty.

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