When I was a kid I watched my mom can peaches, pickles and jam. More recently, I have been intrigued by making homemade preserves. I can appreciate how wonderful it is to enjoy garden grown food during the cold months when the growing season is over.
Combine this fasciation for canning with my intrigue for probiotic food and … presto… I’m diving into the world of homemade fermented sauerkraut.
I am sharing this post because I just canned my first successful batch of sauerkraut!
Why is it important to eat probiotic food?
In this present moment, our North American diet really doesn’t contain true probiotic food. Some Canadian families still make their traditional probiotic rich foods, but I can say for certain that I wasn’t getting a serving through my own diet.
Many people eat yogurt and, although toted as “probiotic food,” the yogurt sold in grocery stores is pasteurized to ensure there are no pathogenic microorganisms in the batches. The down side is that pasteurization also diminishes any therapeutic concentrations of the good bacteria.
Eating probiotic food helps to build the healthy populations of good bacteria in our digestive tract. This leads to increased gut integrity, decreased food sensitivities and decreased digestive concerns such as bloating, heartburn, indigestion and irregular bowels. It also helps bolster the immune system.
Probiotic food is what protected our ancestors from illness. This also is what helped them have an “iron clad stomach.” This is a health phrase that is virtually unheard of these days with gut issues being a top health concern.
I have a 5L fermenting crock with weights which I find was a good investment for me because I want to make large batches of kraut that I can store and keep through the year, like my mom did when she canned. In addition, my family and I can enjoy not only a serving of probiotic food, but we can enjoy a coleslaw-like side dish when the veggies are looking wilted and sad during the winter.
I also have a vegetable tamper, which sped along my kraut making.
There are so many ways you can make sauerkraut WITHOUT these things. For example, you can make sauerkraut in mason jars. Also, you can make Kimchi, which is a spicy fermented cabbage that is equally beneficial and delicious.
2 heads of cabbage (yields 4.5L of Sauerkraut)
— remove the outer wilted leaves
— save 3-4 whole leaves
I finely sliced my cabbage. You can do this with a knife, a food processor (with a single slit slicing blade) or a mandolin. To every 1.5-1.75 cups of cabbage I added 1 teaspoon of sea salt. I threw the sliced cabbage and salt mixture in a large bowl. Once I was done, I mixed everything really well with my hands.
Next I transferred the cabbage to the fermenting crock, about 4 cups at a time. Then I would use my vegetable tamper to pound down the cabbage. This released a natural brine. I repeated this until all the cabbage was in the crock.
Once all the cabbage was in, I pressed down on the cabbage. This caused the brine to rise about 2-3 inches above the cabbage. Then I pressed 3-4 whole leaves over the shredded cabbage to keep it submerged in the brine. Finally I added my stone weights on top to keep the whole thing under the brine. I added my lid and stored it in my cold cellar.
There is sat for 4 weeks. Once a week I would open it up and press down on the weights with my tamper to release any trapped gases from the fermentation process. This prevents any rot from forming in between the shredded cabbage.
Canning The Kraut
Once the four weeks was up it was ready to can. I washed a number of mason jars in hot soapy water and dried them well. Then I packed the kraut into the mason jars.
The kraut needs to be covered with brine in the mason jars, so I pressed down on the cabbage to do so. This helps preserve the kraut.
I added a little extra homemade brine to bring the level of each jar up. The homemade brine was 1 tbsp salt dissolved in 4 cups of boiling water. I let it cool first before adding it to the jars.
Once the jars were sealed with lids, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months as long as it is covered with the brine.
What to do with Sauerkraut?
I was thrilled with this batch. I found that it tasted great and I especially loved that once it was tossed with a little olive oil and raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar it tasted like cole slaw. It makes a great salad side dish that my family loves! It makes me (and their tummies) happy! lol 😉
If you would like to make your own homemade sauerkraut and would like more information, guidance or tips, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.