There are just a few basic ingredients necessary for the fermentation process, depending on your preference:
- Vegetables (I prefer cabbage and carrots, mixed together)
- Sea salt
We grew up on a farm and I learned at a young age how to make sauerkraut; after all, my father was of Ukrainian descent. As a family, we ate it almost every day and I got to enjoy it. Of course, coming from a family of nine, Father’s idea of sauerkraut production meant making it in a wooden 50-gallon barrel. Not to fear, I have scaled down production significantly since then. I have a nice little crock pot now, which I use specifically for sauerkraut production.
As you can imagine, having the highest quality ingredients is imperative. Look for organic heads of cabbage or other selected vegetable(s). Organic is of prime importance in fermentation. Using vegetables drenched in glyphosate (found in Roundup) is counterproductive to restoring gut flora. As well, toxic chemicals will alter the natural fermentation process resulting in unsatisfactory flavors, unwelcome textures, and generally substandard fermented vegetables. Not to mention, toxic. Remember, “natural” is not the same as “organic” ingredients. Look for the five-digit product code starting with “9” to ensure that what you are buying is indeed organic produce.
Himalayan Sea salt
High-quality salt such as unrefined Himilayan sea salt or other sea salt is another important ingredient. Sea salt imparts extra minerals to the ferment while leaving out nasty chemicals. Sea salt is a vital component to the fermentation process, as it preserves the flavor and crunch of raw vegetables. Please opt out of using anything less than real sea salt of some kind.
Some people add water, but usually I don’t. My father never did, either. Instead of adding water, I press down the shredded vegetables for about fifteen minutes with a potato masher, until I see water expelling between the masher prongs. This process draws out the natural juices of the vegetables and gives a good start to the fermentation process. If you do add water, be sure the water is pure. That means it is water without chlorine, fluoride, and any number of chemicals as a result of runoff into the water supply. Remember that chlorine is often used as an anti-bacterial agent, which lets me know at once it is not an ingredient to encourage healthy growth of bacteria. If you feel you must use water, choose only filtered water, spring water, or water from a healthy well.
Bottom line: once you go through the fermentation process once, you’ll see it’s not that complicated. Your tummy will thank you. So, now it’s recipe time!:
Recipe: Three-Ingredient Sauerkraut
- 1 large crock pot with lid
- Knife and cutting board
- Food shredder or food processor
- Fermentation weight (I use a stone, pre-washed in the dishwasher)
- Potato masher or kraut pounder
Ingredients for Home-Made Sauerkraut
- 1 medium head organic green cabbage, preferably with loose outer leaves
- 2 organic carrots, sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Any brine leftover from previous sauerkraut batch (optional)
- Remove the loose three or four outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside for later.
- Cut the cabbage in quarters vertically. Remove the core from each quarter by slicing around it in an upside down V-shape.
- Slice the de-cored cabbage quarters in ¼” widths (or use food processor).
- Prepare carrots (by removing stems, ends, and skins) and thinly slice.
- Place prepared cabbage and carrots in crock pot.
- Add the sea salt.
- Mix it all together with clean hands. The desired taste will be well-seasoned but not overly salty. Add more salt if desired.
- Press down the mixture with a potato masher (or kraut pounder) for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until the liquid leeches out between the prongs of the potato masher. This begins the birth of the brine.
- Cover the mixture with the excess loose cabbage leaves ensuring complete coverage.
- If more liquid is needed, mix 1 T sea salt in 1 cup water and pour on top.
- Like my father, I add stone on top. His stone of course was much larger to suit the barrel size.
- Place lid securely on crock pot. Be sure the lid is NOT air tight, as the fermentation process requires “breathing room”. That’s why I love my crock pot so much. 🙂
- Place in a secluded spot (like on top of a cupboard) at room-temperature location for seven days. That is my preferred length of time, but if you like softer sauerkraut, leave longer. Personally, I like crunchy sauerkraut.
- After seven days, remove lid, stone, cabbage leaves, and any mold.
- The sauerkraut is now ready to be placed into jars and refrigerated. Using clean hands, simply take handfuls of the sauerkraut and transfer into mason jars. After every couple of fistfuls, compact the cabbage into the jar with a fist.
- Top off the jars with any left-over brine from the bottom of the bowl.
- Put lids on the jars and place into fridge or cold storage. The cooler temperature will slow the fermentation process. A little bit of browning may occur on top, if the brine does not cover the kraut at some point. This is fine, but it can be thrown out if desired. Just be sure to cover the remaining kraut with brine by weighting it down. As I said earlier, add more salt brine solution in a ratio of 1 Tablespoon salt to 1 cup pure water, if required. I don’t recall if my father added more liquid, but he might have done so.
Yield: 4 pint jars
If you have questions, please drop me a line in the comments below. Otherwise, I’d love to know how your sauerkraut turns out!