Twenty four days ago I told my husband I was going to make sauerkraut and he was like…WHY? It’s horrible, why would anyone want to eat that?, he said. I told him to hear me out, because certainly I understood that he’d had it before as a child and he didn’t like it but really I had a good reason for making it. He’s used to me and my “projects” at this point and knows I’m always up to cooking or learning how to make something that’s uber healthy and likely not on his repertoire of likings. Since he loves me, he humors me and lets me get to it.
I did some research first on raw fermented sauerkraut and learned it’s not that easy or affordable to just buy it. Most of the store-bought stuff is actually made with vinegar and likely pasteurized when canned in jars. Definitely didn’t see a point in eating that since I’m not a huge cabbage fan to begin with. If I were going to resolve myself to eating sauerkraut my primary purpose was that it be full of gut healing probiotics.
So I set about to finding a method that was reliable, safe and didn’t cost a fortune to try. I found the Fido Jars from Italy which tested pretty well according to a Nourishing Traditions article on various methods of fermenting. I actually happen to have some crunchy farm lady friends who grow a lot of their own food and keep chickens. (I’d like to be one some day) One of them couldn’t wait to give me a head of cabbage because she didn’t know what she was going to do with it all anyway.
So that part was easy. I had read some blogs and watched some Tube videos on making sauerkraut and frankly it didn’t seem that difficult in comparison to a lot of other things I’ve made. So….why not?
I learned that one teaspoon of raw fermented sauerkraut has as many probiotics in it as an entire bottle of store-bought probiotics. So why was I wasting money on those? All I needed was cabbage, salt and fermenting jars. Done.
Here is how I made it:
- Wash head of cabbage and remove outer damaged leaves
- Cut cabbage into quarters, remove the center stem/stalk
- Shred the cabbage in a food processor
- Put the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle sea salt over it.
- Kneed the cabbage and salt together with your hands then use a wooden mallet to mash and crunch it together-the goal is to get it to release its liquids. You may need to let it set for 10 minutes or so to achieve this
- Load the juicy shredded salted cabbage into clean/sterilized Fido jars but leave some head space room.
- You want to press the cabbage down into the jars hard so that the liquid comes out and covers the cabbage. Some people use jar weights or a shot glass with salt brine inside to weight down the cabbage. I only did this with one jar. The other I relied on sheer pent up anger to mash it into the jar tightly!
- Make sure there are no loose cabbage pieces on the jar lid/seal or above the salt brine level. Then close the jar.
- Label it with the date and contents and set it in a warm location for up to 23 days.
In several days you will begin to notice bubbling inside the jar and this means it’s working. I kept my Fido jars on top of a plastic tray on the counter because they may leak a bit of liquid out of the top when the gasses escape. This is perfectly fine. You should check on the jars periodically to make sure there is still enough liquid in the jar to cover the cabbage. You can add a bit more salt brine if there isn’t. I didn’t have to do this with mine but some say you might need too.
I waited 23 days and then opened it and used my nose to test it for safety. I did not see any scum, mold or other things that some blogs report when fermenting which means I did it properly. The sauerkraut smelled like, well sauerkraut but it did not smell foul. If it has a terrible odor that doesn’t resemble rotten cabbage, something probably went wrong.After this fermentation period you store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator. It can be kept there for several months.
Now bear in mind I didn’t have this growing up and it wasn’t part of our diet. In fact the only sauerkraut I’d ever tried was from a store and it wasn’t good. So I had hoped that this version would be better.
I took a leap and tasted it. It was tart, crunchy and I liked it more than I thought I would. I can’t say what it will do for my gut just yet of course, but I’m going to try it and see.
I now have two large jars of sauerkraut in the refrigerator that will last me a while at a few teaspoons per day. Now if only I can convince the kids and hubby to eat some too!