A Beginner's Guide to Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, a staple of many European cuisines, has made a name for itself not only for its tangy flavor but also for its potential health benefits. Fermented sauerkraut is a probiotic powerhouse that can help support a healthy gut microbiome. The best part? You can make it at home with just two ingredients: cabbage and salt. In this beginner's guide, we'll take you through the steps to create your very own batch of homemade fermented sauerkraut.



Ingredients:

- 1 medium-sized cabbage (green or red)
- 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of sea salt (non-iodized)

Equipment:

- Large mixing bowl
- Clean glass jar(s) with a tight-fitting lid
- Clean cloth or paper towel
- Rubber band or string

Instructions:

1. Prepare Your Equipment:
Begin by ensuring all your equipment, including the glass jar(s), is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Starting with clean utensils and containers is essential to prevent unwanted bacteria from interfering with the fermentation process.

2. Prepare the Cabbage:
- Remove any damaged or wilted outer leaves from the cabbage.
- Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core.
- Thinly slice the cabbage into fine shreds. You can use a knife, a mandoline slicer, or a food processor with a shredding attachment.

3. Add Salt:
- Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the salt evenly over the cabbage.

4. Massage the Cabbage:
- Roll up your sleeves and, with clean hands, start massaging and squeezing the cabbage. This step helps break down the cell walls and release the cabbage's natural juices.
- Continue massaging for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cabbage becomes noticeably softer and releases liquid. You'll want enough liquid to submerge the cabbage when packed into the jar.

5. Pack the Jar:
- Transfer the salted and massaged cabbage into the clean glass jar(s) a little at a time. Pack it down tightly using your fist or a clean utensil as you go to eliminate air pockets.

6. Submerge the Cabbage:
- Ensure that the cabbage is fully submerged in its own liquid. This is crucial to prevent mold growth. If there isn't enough liquid, you can top it off with a bit of filtered water.

7. Cover the Jar:
- Place a clean cloth or paper towel over the mouth of the jar to keep out dust and contaminants.
- Secure the cloth with a rubber band or string.

8. Fermentation:
- Store the jar at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
- Let it ferment for several days to a few weeks, depending on your taste preferences. The longer it ferments, the tangier it will become.
- Check the sauerkraut every few days to make sure it stays submerged. You may need to press it down if it starts floating.

9. Taste Test:
- Start tasting the sauerkraut after about a week to see if it has reached your desired level of fermentation. When it reaches the taste you like, transfer it to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

10. Storage:
- Once in the fridge, sauerkraut can last for several months. It will continue to ferment, but at a much slower rate.

Congratulations! You've just created your own batch of homemade fermented sauerkraut. This probiotic-rich condiment can add a burst of flavor and gut-healthy goodness to your meals. Experiment with different cabbage varieties and seasonings to create your unique sauerkraut variations. Enjoy the journey of exploring the world of fermentation and its benefits for your gut health.

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