Last summer I began working on a post for October about sausage making and also started testing homemade sauerkraut. I am a big believer in incorporating fermented foods into your diet for overall health. Foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and miso contain something called probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial to your body. When your body has an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria it can cause all sorts of problems. Probiotics have been found to cure a wide variety of digestive issues and even help with common colds and eczema.
I played around with the mason jar method of making sauerkraut several times but could never get it to ferment more than a week without starting to mold on top. Granted, it was a very hot summer, and since we live in a usually mild climate most houses around here don’t have central AC. So in the midst of fermenting, my indoor thermometer hovered below 90 degrees. Not great fermenting conditions. Ideally, you want a temperature between 65-72 degrees so you can ferment for about four weeks, producing not only a more complexly flavored sauerkraut, but one that has the maximum amount of good bacteria.
I put sauerkraut on hold for several months as I worked on other blog posts and then received this sturdy fermenting/pickling crock at the end of year.
What I love about this 5 liter crock (available here) is 1) you can make as little or as much as you want to 2) it comes with weighing stones that make sure your fermenting foods are always submerged in liquid 3) it has a little mote around the lid that you fill with water to create an airtight seal.
Now on to the actual process! Any time you are preserving food (canning, pickling, fermenting) you want to make sure you have a clean and sanity workspace in your kitchen; and that goes for your utensils/dishes and storage containers as well. I ran all disherwasher safe items through a sanitizing cycle and washed everything else in hot soapy water.
Once I ran the cabbage through the Ankarsrum, I combined it with the salt in a large bowl and massaged the mixture together for several minutes. This created a nice salty liquid for the cabbage to hang out in for the next couple weeks.
Then I added my mixture to the crock, weighed it down with the weighing stones, sealed the lid with water and left it alone for 2 weeks before I started to peek at it. The instructions that came with the crock recommended not disturbing it for the first 2 weeks so air wouldn’t be introduced into the container. I was able to let my cabbage ferment for 4 weeks, checking it periodically and skimming off any scum that formed.
Now I have deliciously tangy homemade sauerkraut that is not only full of probiotics but is also making my sausages, reubens and potato cakes oh so tasty!!
Prep Time: 10-20 minutes (depending on how much cabbage you are using)
1 teaspoon kosher salt per 1 pound of cabbage
Before beginning the recipe, make sure the cabbage is washed and all your equipment is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized if possible.
Set up the Ankarsrum base with the slicing/shredding attachment and the slicing drum. Cut the cabbage into large chunks that will fit through the shoot on the attachment. Turn the speed onto the highest setting and feed the cabbage through the shoot using the plunger.
Once all your cabbage has been sliced/shredded, combine in a large bowl with the salt and massage for 3 minutes with clean hands.
Transfer the mixture to the crock and place the weighing stones on top, pushing down to make sure the cabbage is fully submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on top and pour water into the water channel around the lid.
Place the crock in a spot that is between 65-72 degrees and leave alone for the first 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, check every 2-3 days, skimming off any scum that may have formed on the top. After the first 2 weeks, begin tasting the sauerkraut when you check it to find your ideal taste. It will usually take around 4-6 weeks to fully develop and have the most beneficial amount of healthy bacteria. Once done fermenting, you may store in the refrigerator in the crock or a food safe container. If your sauerkraut develops brown or black mold, becomes soft and slimy or develops an odor, discard and start again!!
Cooks note: If you don’t have a fermenting crock, you may also use any canning/pickling food safe container that has an airlock lid.