Raw sauerkraut is a wonderful, inexpensive source of probiotics. You need only two ingredients to make your own!
Probiotics are the “good guys” that help your body fight off diseases and infections caused by the “bad guys.” Cultured foods such as yogurt, kombucha, and raw sauerkraut contain naturally-occurring probiotics. I guess I’ve started the new year on a culturing trend! I made Vegan Cashew Yogurt earlier this week.
Learning to make raw sauerkraut is a valuable skill. I’ve tried lots of ways to make sauerkraut. Some worked. Many didn’t. Let me share what I’ve learned with you.
What you DON’T need:
- Starter culture
- Special lids.
Yes, I’ve tried all of the above.
What you DO need:
- Cutting board
- Nonmetal container
- Food processor
- Crock with platelike lid and a weight to hold it down
- Large wooden spoon or something to press cabbage down
Tips for Success with Raw Sauerkraut
- Work the salted cabbage well with your hands until it becomes juicy. This is key! There are no reliable shortcuts here.
- While your raw sauerkraut is fermenting, keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid. Exposure to oxygen causes problems.
- Allow your cabbage to ferment in a dark place for about a week. The higher the temperature, the faster the process.
The ideal container for making raw sauerkraut would be an opaque crock with straight sides. If it has a lid that fits inside it, even better. Straight sides would allow the lid, or ideally-fitting plate to sit inside pressing down on the cabbage. It would need to be large enough to cover the surface but small enough to slide freely up and down. In the old days, I’m told, people set a rock on the plate to keep it weighted down.
You can use any glass or crockery container you have available as long as you keep it covered or in a dark place. Light destroys lactic acid bacteria which are crucial for good fermentation.
Don’t leave your sauerkraut sitting in a metal container. It can react with the salt.
A plastic zip-lock bag filled with water will do the job of holding down the cabbage and sealing out air. However, I don’t like to leave plastic next to my food.
I use a two-litre, or two-quart, mason jar to make my raw sauerkraut. Then, I save a couple large cabbage leaves before I chop up the rest. I put one or two of them on top of my cabbage after I’ve pressed it into the jar. The cabbage leaf is usually stiff enough to keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid and flexible enough to take on the shape of the jar around the edges. Then, you need something to set on top of the cabbage leaf to press it down enough to hold the chopped cabbage under the surface of the juice. I use a tiny ramekin that happens to fit inside the neck of my jar. You might have a drinking glass that works for you.
What to Watch for
Check your sauerkraut daily to make sure the cabbage is properly submerged in the liquid. (It likes to float.)
No mould should develop.
It should smell right. You’ll learn from experience what good raw sauerkraut should smell like. I bought my first raw sauerkraut from a gentleman at a farmers’ market, so I would know what it should look, taste, and smell like.
I hope you find this video helpful.
- fresh cabbage
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, per pound of cabbage
- Chop or shred cabbage to a consistent size. Sprinkle with salt.
- Working vigorously with clean hands, mix the salt throughout the cabbage as you squeeze and press it. Do this for about 10 minutes until you have liquid accumulating that has been squeezed out of the cabbage.
- Pack your pressed cabbage and its juice into a clean crock or jar. (Don't use a metal container.) The cabbage needs to be kept submerged under the surface of the juice. This can be accomplished by weighting down a large cabbage leaf or two.
- Store your mixture in a dark place at room temperature. Check on it daily to make sure that all cabbage remains submerged below the surface of the liquid. You can press down on it a little each day. Fermentation time may vary. It will be faster in a warmer environment.
- After about seven days, your sauerkraut will be ready. Remove the cabbage leaf from the top, store it in the refrigerator in a sealed, nonmetal container.