How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

The fermentation process first fascinated me about 6 years ago while away at the University of Montevallo. I was in my freshman year intro to food science course. As our final project we had to choose a scientific process relating to food and make it for the class, while some people chose making cookies, no surprise, I chose a slightly more strange option.. Fermenting my own non-alcoholic ginger beer. HOLY COW! I was hooked. The process amazed me, and I learned a few valuable lessons after blowing up a plastic jug in my parent’s house when I forgot to release CO2 from the jug for a few days. Watching unrelated ingredients combine with science to produce a new product (that was bubbly!!) was amazing. Since this experiment, I have started making kombucha, sauerkraut, ginger beer, pickles and other yummy treats! My Husband even made all of the wine for our wedding. There you have it. The history of my love for fermentation!

 

What you need

  1. Recycled pickle jar or 24 oz jar
    1. I also love to use mason jars the call is yours!
  2. 1 large bowl
  3. ½ head of white cabbage
  4. 1 ½ tablespoon salt (I like mine salty so you can use 1 tablespoon if not)
  5. ½ tablespoon caraway seeds (also known as fennel seeds)
  6. Clean cloth
  7. Twine or rubber band
  8. Clean hands

How to make it

  1. STERILIZE AND CLEAN ALL SURFACES – this is the key! This allows the good bacteria to work and ferment the food properly.
    1. Jar, bowl, knife, hands, counters
  2. Wash cabbage thoroughly
  3. Slice cabbage into thick ribbons (see pictures)
  4. Move cabbage to bowl and combine with salt and caraway seeds
  5. Use your hands to work the salt into the cabbage
    1. Continue to squeeze the water out of the cabbage until it has reached ½ of its original size.
    2. You will notice the water in the bottom of the bowl. That’s good!
  6. Pack the cabbage into the jar tightly with your clean hands or a clean fork.
    1. Once all the cabbage is packed in the jar, pour the excess water from the bowl into the jar
    2. I usually use a fork to ensure all the cabbage is packed below the water.
    3. I check mine daily and use a clean fork to repack when needed
  7. Once the cabbage is packed take a clean towel or cheesecloth to cover the opening of the jar and secure with a rubber band or twin.
  8. Store in a cupboard or any place away from direct sunlight at 65-75 degrees F (18-24 degrees C) for 3 days (72 hours).
    1. Check daily and repack cabbage with a clean fork when needed.
  9. After 3 days place the original lid back on the jar and store in the fridge!

 

What to look for:

  1. Cloudy brine (the liquid in the jar) is fine and normal! If the brine start to change colors drastically or has pinkish tint the mixture may have gone bad.
  2. Bubbles are good! This means the bacteria are working to ferment the cabbage. These specific bacteria are the most active in the first 3 days.
  3. The cabbage may make your cupboard smell don’t be alarmed! If this is something you are worried about, move the jar to a dark place in the house where the smell will not be as easily detected.

 

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