Friday, July 31, 2009

Sauerkraut: How To

Sauerkraut is incredibly simple. I am posting instructions quickly and hope to follow up with pictures soon. We had technical issues this month, so I apologize for how belated this post is.

You will need the following:
A large bowl you can pound in
A pounding pestle (I use the pestle from my mortar and pestle - but I am saving for a real kraut pounder available through our Eugene chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation)
Quart mason jar (you can do larger or smaller depending on how quickly you will go through the sauerkraut once opened)

1 Medium Cabbage
1 Tbsp Caraway seeds
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
4 Tbsp Whey (or 1 additional tbsp salt)

Core and thinly shred the cabbage. I do this with a large serrated chopping knife. I had purchased a mandolin type shredder but found it was more trouble that it was worth and it did not shred fine enough, so I returned it and went back to using my knife.

In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, caraway seeds, sea salt, and whey (or additional salt). Pound with pestle or wooded pounder (or whatever else you might find - like a meat hammer), for 10 minutes to release juices.

Place in quart mason jar and press down firmly with pounder/pestle until the juices well cover the top of the sauerkraut (leave 1" of room before the top of the jar as it will expand during fermentation). Cover jar very tightly and keep at room for about 3 days (more or less depending on temperature - ideal is 72 degrees) before transferring to cold storage (like the top shelf of your refrigerator -shooting for 40 degrees). You can eat it immediately after this, but it will also improve in flavor with age (some say it takes 6 months for sauerkraut's flavors to fully develop).

The lovely thing about naturally fermenting food is that your nose will tell you when it has gone bad so that you have no need to fear botulism. Further, naturally fermented foods are full of lactobacilli which enhances the foods digestibility as well as increases the vitamin levels. Additionally, these foods are living and full of enzymes, natural antibiotics and anti carcinogens. These foods will promote health gut flora which is at the foundation of all good health.

For more on fermenting you own foods please take a look at the following links:
Cheeseslave: Ten reasons to eat fermented foods
Food Renegade: How to make Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables
Wild Fermentation
Portland Preserve
Sauerkraut: The Miracle Cabbage
and of course, many fermented recipes can be found in Nourishing Traditions


  1. One of the tastiest foods on the planet, methinks!

  2. Thanks for this! We have quite an obstacle in that we have nowhere cool enough to do this right now. Our apartment on the 4th floor never gets below 80 degrees, so I think we'll wait for the fall to try this. Do you have good ideas for how to eat it? We get amazing brats through our CSA, so there's that, but otherwise I don't have any idea what to do with sauerkraut. A big pile of it as an accompaniment to a main dish sounds kind of weird?

  3. Leah - Indeed. Oh so yummy.

    Sarah - I think you could still do it, it would probably just finish a lot faster, perhaps 24 hours rather than 48. Sauerkraut is a great addition to soups (once they've cooled so you don't kill all the good bacteria you've worked so hard to preserve), a nice side condiment to various meats - especially your brats. Mexican Sauerkraut (includes some carrot, onion and various spices) is tasty as a condiment for all south of the border fare.

    Leah - Other sauerkraut ideas?

    Andrew just snacks on it plain, and sips the juice.

  4. when do you add the caraway seeds? when you're pounding the cabbage? I don't see them in the instructions just in the ingredients.

  5. Oh yes, when pounding! Sorry for leaving that out. Thank you for drawing my attention to it.


Questions and Comments welcome! If you would prefer to contact me privately, please email mariannescrivner (at) gmail (dot) com.


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