When life gives you cabbage, you make sauerkraut — and homemade sauerkraut is a universe apart from the material that comes from the grocery store. It is crunchy and superbly sour, ideal for topping a round of beer-braised brats or layering into a huge sandwich. Do not worry about having a distinctive crock or producing so much you’ll be eating it for weeks.
Today I am showing you how to make a small batch of sauerkraut in a mason jar — it is only enough kraut to get you hooked!
Sauerkraut is often one of the earliest fermentation projects recommended to interested DIY-ers, and with good reason: It is beyond simple to make, it requires hardly any specific equipment, and the results are dependably tasty. All you have to do is combine shredded cabbage with some salt and package it into a container — a crock if you’ve got one and need to make a lot of sauerkraut, but a mason jar is going to do just fine for smaller batches. The cabbage sparks liquid, creating its brining solution. Submerged in this liquid for a span of several days or weeks, the cabbage gradually ferments into the crunchy, sour condiment we know and love just as sauerkraut.
How Is Sauerkraut Fermented?
Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. To put it (rather) only: There’s beneficial bacteria found in the surface of the cabbage and, in reality, all fruits and vegetables. Lactobacillus is just one of those germs, which is the same bacteria found in yogurt and several other products that are cultured. When submerged in a brine, the bacteria start to convert sugars from the cabbage into lactic acid; this really is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of damaging bacteria.
Why Should Sauerkraut Be Fermented?
Lacto-fermentation has been used for centuries to maintain seasonal vegetables beyond their standard shelf-life. The fermentation process itself is quite reliable and safe, and the fermented sauerkraut can be kept at cellar temperature (around 55°F) for 2 weeks, although those people without cellars can make do with storing the kraut within our fridges. Besides preserving the cabbage, this fermentation process also transforms it into something incredibly tasty and gives it additional health benefits — fermented sauerkraut contains a great deal of the same healthy probiotics as a bowl of yogurt.
What Do I Need to Produce Sauerkraut?
In the most fundamental, all you will need is salt, cabbage, and some sort of container to keep it while it is fermenting. It is essential that the cabbage remain submerged in its liquid during fermentation. When making sauerkraut in a crock, you typically put a barbell plate above the cabbage to package it down and keep it underwater. When fermenting in a mason jar, then inserting a bigger jelly jar filled with rocks or marbles in the mouth of this bigger jar serves the identical function.
The cabbage near the surface will float so when fermenting in a mason jar, then you will need to either tamp the cabbage down a few times every day or put a big outer leaves of cabbage above the face of the shredded cabbage to hold it down. Also make certain to keep the jar covered in any way times with a sterile cloth or piece of cheese cloth. This will allow airflow, but protect against insects or dust from getting into the sauerkraut.
How Much Time Does It Take to Produce Sauerkraut?
For a small quart-sized batch like we are making now, the minimum time is about three times, although the kraut will continue to ferment and become tastier for several days after that. As easy as it seems, the best rule of thumb is to keep tasting the kraut and simmer (or simply take it basement temperature) if it tastes good to you. The sauerkraut is safe to consume at each stage of the process, so there is no true minimum or maximum time period.
What Can Go Wrong?
Not much! You will see bubbles, foam, or white scum on the surface of the sauerkraut, however, these are all signs of normal, healthy fermentation. The white scum could be skimmed off as you see it or until refrigerating the sauerkraut. If you receive an extremely active fermentation or in case your mason jar is quite full, the brine can occasionally bubble up over the cap of the jar. This is part of the reason I recommend using a bigger mason jar than is really required to hold the cabbage. Should you get a bubble-up, it is nothing to worry about — just put a plate below the jar to catch the drips and make certain that the cabbage continues to be covered by the brine.
It is likely you may find mould growing on the surface of the sauerkraut, but do not worry! Mold typically creates only when the cabbage isn’t completely submerged or if it is too hot in your own kitchen. The sauerkraut is still fine (it is still maintained by the lactic acid) — you can scoop off the mould and move with fermentation. That being said, it is still very important to use your very best judgement when fermenting. If something tastes or smells moldy or unappetizing, expect your senses and toss the batch.
Here is how to make a small batch of sauerkraut in a mason jar — it is only enough kraut to get you hooked!
Everything You Will Need
1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)
2-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or two-quart mason jars)
Canning attachment (optional)
Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the bigger mason jar
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
Cloth for covering the jar
Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth
- Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it is best to give the great, beneficial bacteria every chance of success by beginning just as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are all cleaned and cleaned of soap residue. You are going to be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a great wash, too.
- Slice the cabbage : Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut the core. Slice each quarter its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.
- Combine the salt and cabbage: Transfer the cabbage into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by squeezing and massaging the cabbage with your hands. At first it may not seem like adequate salt, but slowly the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than uncooked cabbage. This may take 5 to 10 minutes. If you’d like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, combine them.
- Scatter the cabbage into the jar: Catch handfuls of this cabbage and package them into the skillet. In case you’ve got a canning funnel, this will make the job easier. Every so often, tamp the cabbage down in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid discharged by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.
→Optional: Put one of the larger outer leaves of the egg above the face of this sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
- Weigh down the cabbage: After all of the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, then slide the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage down, and submerged under its own liquid.
- Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and fasten it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of this jar, but prevents insects or dust from getting into the jar.
- Press the cabbage every couple of hours : Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. Since the cabbage releases its liquid, then it is going to become more limp and streamlined and the liquid will grow over the surface of the cabbage.
- Insert extra liquid, if needed: When 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and put in enough to submerge the cabbage.
- Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 times: When it is fermenting, maintain the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it every day and press it down if the cabbage is drifting above the liquid.
Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it is going to ferment more quickly than bigger batches. Start tasting it after 3 times — if the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to keep on fermenting for 10 times or more. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for whenever the sauerkraut is “done” — go by how it tastes.
As soon as it’s fermenting, you might see bubbles coming via the cabbage, foam on the surface, or white scum. These are all symptoms of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum could be skimmed off the surface either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you find any mould, skim off it immediately and make certain that your cabbage is totally submerged; do not eat moldy parts close to the surface, however, the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
- Store sauerkraut for several weeks: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so that it is going to keep for two weeks and often more when kept refrigerated. As long as it smells and tastes great to eat, it is going to be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut into a smaller container for storage.
- Sauerkraut along with other cabbages: Red cabbage, napa cabbage, along with other cabbages make good sauerkraut. Make individual batches or blend them up for a multi-colored sauerkraut!
- Canning sauerkraut: you’ll be able to process sauerkraut for more storage out refrigeration, but the canning process will kill the good bacterias produced by the fermentation process. Watch this tutorial from the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning instructions.
- Larger or smaller batches: To make larger or smaller batches of sauerkraut, maintain same ratio of cabbage to salt and correct the size of this container. Smaller batches will ferment more quickly and bigger batches will take more.
- Cold and hot temperatures: Do everything you can to keep sauerkraut at a cool room temperature. At high temperatures, the sauerkraut can occasionally become unappetizingly mushy or go bad. Low temperatures (above freezing) are fine, but fermentation will proceed more gradually.