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I love sauerkraut. I was actually surprised by that! I learned how to make sauerkraut for the first time last summer when I reviewed the book Brassicas. I was trying to add more fermented foods into my diet, and I had just spent three weeks in Germany. Sauerkraut was on my mind and I was weirdly excited to make it.
Homemade sauerkraut is actually quite easy to make, and it is definitely the way you should go for your kraut fix. Cabbage is super cheap. Conventional gets as low as 40 cents per pound here, and that is what we buy since it is not on the dirty dozen list. You also have the option of growing or buying from the farmers market lots of cabbage when it is in season and making homemade sauerkraut until it is coming out of your ears. This is what my father-in-law does.
The other reason to make homemade sauerkraut is that the kraut you can buy in the store is pasteurized. This means that while it tastes good, it doesn’t have any of the beneficial bacteria that homemade sauerkraut has. And the raw stuff is expensive! A jar of kraut takes very little time to put together, and then it is just a waiting game.
How to Make Sauerkraut
To make homemade sauerkraut, you will need quart sized mason jars or larger (wide mouth preferred), a good knife, a food processor, a large bowl, a dish towel, cabbage, salt, and water. Make sure that the salt is not iodized. I usually use simple canning salt. For flavor boosting, some people will add spices or seaweed. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re going for a simple sauerkraut recipe right now.
Other helpful tools are , a large bowl, and (I have never used one, but they are useful) a jelly jar.There is debate over whether you need a fermentation cap and for how long you need to ferment your sauerkraut. This is entirely up to you. The fermentation cap or jar may give you peace of mind, but I find that I have never needed one with sauerkraut. For length of fermentation, you can eat it as early as one week or you can leave it to ferment for several months. I usually do a bit of both. Each have their own benefits, and this way I can usually always keep my fridge stocked with kraut. The below instructions are for a week long ferment, as this always turns out well for me (sometimes my long ferments get mushy).
Sauerkraut will keep for about 6 months in the refrigerator. It can be frozen for longer. Some of the good probiotics will survive, so this is definitely an option.
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