Every home needs a recipe for homemade sauerkraut. It’s insanely cheap to make, tasty, and its gut-healing properties are hard to match. My favorite way to make it is just straight-up with cabbage, salt, and time; however, it’s fun to add different flavors in the form of herbs and spices. Try caraway and serve with kielbasa, or try garlic and dill for something different. If you or someone in your family doesn’t like sauerkraut, serve this with pot roast and take bites of both the roast and kraut together. I’ve convinced many a kraut-hater to love sauerkraut this way. If you’ve never done this before, don’t fret. It’s not hard, but I’d recommend reading this first to safeguard against spoilage and to keep things easy for you.
This recipe is easy to scale up or down- just remember that for every pound of cabbage you use, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. If you don’t have a scale at home, just weigh your cabbage at the grocery store/market before you purchase it. Because this is a fermented food, it will not taste exactly like most sauerkraut from the store (they tend to be made with vinegar); it will have a slightly funky quality to it, but it should never smell or taste rotten. Some scum may accumulate and float on top of the brine- just skim this and continue with your day.
Special equipment: a clean glass jar/container and something to use as a weight (to keep the kraut submerged under the brine-read more about this here), or you can go big and use a real kraut pot and stone weight.
1 head of cabbage (the variety is up to you, but I tend to use either green cabbage, red cabbage, or Napa cabbage)
1. Remove a couple of outer leaves from the head of cabbage and set aside. Cut the head of cabbage into quarters. Using either a sharp knife or a mandoline, thinly slice the cabbage and place it in a large bowl.
2. For each pound of cabbage, measure 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add this to the cabbage and mix thoroughly with your hands. Let this stand on the counter for 10-15 minutes, then massage the cabbage until it has released a lot of its juices and has gone limp.
3. Transfer the shredded cabbage into your clean jar(s) and pack it in as tightly as you can. The cabbage should be submerged under its own liquid once you’ve finished packing the jars; if not, dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt into 1 cup of water and use this brine to top off your jars. Tear or cut a piece from the outer leaves you reserved and place that on top of the shredded cabbage, followed by your clean weight (the cabbage leaf helps keep any stray shredded cabbage from floating up and escaping the brine).
4. Loosely cover this whole contraption (you want gas to be able to escape; I use a cloth bag leftover from a country ham I purchased last year) and let it rest on the counter for one month. The longer you let it sit, the better the fermentation and the more beneficial bacteria will grow.
5. Once the kraut is to your liking, store it in the refrigerator. It should keep for a very long time, if you don’t finish it off before then.