This recipe is a foundation, on which you can add endless herbs and spices, or add additional elements like kale, or dry and fresh fruits like apples or cranberries.
“Captain James Cook, the eighteenth-century English explorer who extended the far reaches of the British Empire, was recognized by the Royal Society for having conquered scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) among his crews by sailing with large quantities of sauerkraut. On his second round-the-world voyage, in the 1770s, sixty barrels of kraut lasted for twenty-seven months, and not a single crew members developed scurvy, which previously had killed huge numbers of the crews of long sea voyages.”
Sandor Ellix Katz | Wild Fermentation
Basic Fermented Sauerkraut
- Ceramic Fermenting Crock
- 5 lbs cabbage
- 3 tbsp sea salt
Choice of Seasonings
- Chop cabbage finely or coarsely, and place in a big bowl.
- Sprinkle salt on the cabbage and mixed it well with your hands. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage, which creates the brine in which the fermentation takes place. The brine keeps the oxygen away from the cabbage. The salt is important also for preventing organisms and enzymes from softening the cabbage, keeping it crunchy. The amount of salt is variable and subjective; you will learn your own taste by experience. This is a suggested ratio: 5lbs vegetables to 3 tbsp salt. Stay open to making changes as you examine the results of your exploration over time.
- Mix and press the cabbage forcefully with the salt and spices. Keep doing it until you think the cabbage cells have been broken down and the mix is soft.
- Add other ingredients to the mix, such as pieces of fruit, onion, seeds herbs etc.
- Start packing the mix into the crock. Take your time; pack a handful and tamp it down with your fist, rolling pin, or other tamping tool.
- Cover the cabbage with the stone-weights and press down. Put crock lid on top and leave it for 1-2 hours to continue releasing the water.
- Press the weights down so the cabbage will be submerged under the brine, if needed wait an hour or two until more water is released from the cabbage. After a day if there is not enough brine to completely cover the cabbage, add a little more salty water to the crock.
- Close the lid and let the fermentation begin. Seal the crock by adding water in the rim-trough. Keep an eye on the water level in the trough and top up as needed; don’t let it dry out as fermentation needs a sealed environment. Keep the lid closed for the amount of time you have decided to ferment. I usually write the starting day on the lid, and then count 2-4 weeks ahead. The longer the fermentation, the more “sour” the kraut will be.
- When time comes up to open the crock, lift the lid, remove the stones, and scoop the kraut out. Transfer the sauerkraut to a sealable glass jar and keep it in the refrigerator. Then start another fermenting adventure to keep the rhythm of making, eating, and storing alive.