Saturday, February 21, 2015

Homemade Sauerkraut in a Quart Jar

I found this recipe on the Internet and couldn't believe how easy it was to make!

Give everything you use for this project a thorough cleaning, including your hands. It is imperative to keep jars and bowls free of dirt and germs!

You will need:

1 wide-mouth quart jar
1 large head of fresh green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 large plastic or glass bowl
Cutting board and knife or a food processor or Mandolin that can slice cabbage
Cheesecloth or old flour-sack towel
Rubber band to secure the cloth or towel
A pint-size jelly jar that will fit inside the quart jar
Clean marbles or stones or something to weigh down the cabbage
Caraway seed (optional)

Clean the cabbage - remove any outer leaves that are wilted or hard. Cut the cabbage in quarters, then remove the core. Slice each wedge in half and then slice each wedge into very thin strips. Place the sliced cabbage in a large mixing bowl (use the biggest size you have).

Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. It won't seem like much, but you don't want to over-salt it.  Let the cabbage and salt sit for about 5-10 minutes and get your canning jar ready and the pint-size jelly jar filled with the marbles or stones (put a lid on it for added safety). Cut your cheesecloth to fit over the quart-sized jar - leave lots of extra room since you will also need to fit it over the jelly jar that will sit atop the cabbage.

Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. It may seem like there is not enough salt, but as you work the cabbage, it will become limp and more like coleslaw than cabbage. This will take 5-10 minutes. If you want to add caraway seed, do it now. I recommend 1/2 Tbsp to begin with (I added a tablespoon and it was too much).

Next pack the cabbage into the quart jar. If you have a canning funnel use it. If not, just use your hand and pack it, pushing down the cabbage to fit it all in the jar. Pour any liquid in the mixing bowl into the quart jar.

Now weigh the cabbage down with the marble or stone-filled jelly jar. Cover with the cheesecloth or a clean flour-sack cloth so that the cabbage can "breathe" but won't get dirty particles or dust in it.

Over the next 24 hours, press down the jelly jar to get the liquid above the cabbage. The cabbage should release liquid and what you want is to keep the liquid above the cabbage so it doesn't mold or spoil. Keep the jar on the kitchen counter overnight. After 24 hours, if there is not enough liquid, dissolve 1 tsp. salt with 1 cup of filtered water and add enough so the cabbage is fully submerged.

Continue to weigh down the cabbage and ferment 3-10 days. Because this is a small batch, it won't take as long as a large batch to begin its fermentation process. Ideally, you want the temperature of the room to be 65-75 degrees. Check daily and press down the cabbage to keep it submerged.

Begin tasting the cabbage after 3 days. The longer it is on the counter, the more fermented it will become. Don't be surprised if it begins to bubble or if a scum or foam appears on top. That is good. If you see mold, skim it off immediately and make sure the cabbage is fully submerged; don't eat the moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine. Put a lid on the jar and just make sure the liquid stays above the cabbage. Here's a photo of it on my counter. This jar has caraway seeds added.

Once you have it at the level of sour you like, you can keep it for 2 months or longer in the refrigerator. It won't get a lot more fermented, but it will last at least that long. As long as it smells and tastes good, you can eat it! I doubt it will last even a month if your family is anything like mine!

You can also can your sauerkraut for longer storage outside of refrigeration, but canning does kill the good bacterias produced by the fermentation process. Feel free to use red cabbage or napa cabbage or other cabbages to make sauerkraut.

Happy fermentation!

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