People have been fermenting cabbage for more than 2000 years. Various cultures have their own form. Koreans have spicy kimchi (which we have a delicious recipe for here), and the Russians have kvashenaya kapusta, made with shredded cabbage and carrot. German sauerkraut is quite simple, using cabbage, salt and caraway seed. For our recipe, we’ve also added a bit of white pepper for added flavor.
Recently, fermented foods have been brought to the forefront because of their health benefits. What better way to stock your refrigerator up with a constant supply of sauerkraut, than to make clean, homemade batches right in your own kitchen?
Pull off outer leaves of the cabbage head and discard. Wash the cabbage under cold running water and then pat it dry. Cut cabbage into quarters and then using sharp knife, cut into very thin slices, discarding the stem parts.
Place sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in half of the salt. Use your hands to mix and lightly squeeze the cabbage for about 3 minutes. Then sprinkle remaining salt into the cabbage and continue mixing by hand for another 3 minutes to make sure the cabbage is fully coated in salt.
Set bowl aside and allow cabbage to sweat out excess liquid (about 10 minutes). This liquid will become your brine. Mix in caraway seeds and white pepper (if using). Continue massaging and mixing cabbage until seasonings are fully combined.
Pack the cabbage into a clean jar, filling to about 1/3. Use a tamper, wooden spoon or fat end of pestle to firmly pack down the cabbage, pressing until liquid appears on top. Add remaining cabbage in thirds, continuing to pack it down until the cabbage fills your jar to about 3 inches from the top.
Weigh down your German sauerkraut with a purchased fermentation weight, a rock boiled for 10 minutes or a clean cabbage leaf followed by a double layer of water-filled, water-tight zip-close baggies. Make sure that the liquid covers your cabbage but rests at least ½ inch below the lid.
Cover jar with it’s accompanying lid and set in a cool (68 – 72 degrees F) room temperature place to ferment for anywhere from 2 – 8 weeks.
After 2 weeks, you can begin testing the flavor of your sauerkraut. Once the cabbage has reached your desired amount of fermentation, you can refrigerate it and store it for up to 3 months.
Serve as a perfect side to any meal (like German bratwurst), on top of salad or your favorite meat dish. You can also use as a dietary supplement, scooping out a couple forkfuls per day.