I’ve been reading up on preserving and canning and am very intrigued by the non-heat processed methods of preserving. Having recently discovered that I really like sauerkraut, and learning how it was made I couldn’t resist trying it out. This post will take a while to complete and I’ll update it as the days go by because it looks like sauerkraut takes more than a week to ferment.
I gathered information from many websites and several books including a saurekraut recipe on learningherbs.com and the book Put ’em up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
I used purple cabbage because I love the look and taste – a lot of people seem to call it red cabbage, but we always called it purple. And I used the equipment I had on hand so I had to improvise a bit. I considered using the food processor to slice it but a lot of sources seem to frown on that, so I sliced thinly by hand.
1 large head or 2 small heads purple cabbage (about 5 pounds)
5 tablespoons kosher salt
Day 1: Remove outer leaves from one head of purple cabbage and set aside. Quarter and then thinly slice the cabbage. I saved the thick inner core for roasting or stir-frying later.
Place handfulls of sliced cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Continue adding slat and cabbage, mixing thoroughly.
Some recipes recommended this step, others didn’t mention it but I’m giving it a go – bruise the cabbage and salt with something like a large pestle, baseball bat, meat tenderizer, etc. This is starting to sound rather violent. Some liquid should come out and the cabbage should start to look transparent.
Pack the sliced, salted, bruised cabbage tightly into a glass or ceramic container. Cover the cabbage with one of the reserved (cleaned, washed) outer cabbage leaves. Place a lid or plate that is slightly smaller than the crock on top of the cabbage, and then weigh down this lid.
Cover the whole thing with a tea towel or cloth and secure with an elastic. Let is sit on the counter for 24 hours – the cabbage should be covered in its own brine by then. If not, you can add brine. I’ll see how mine works out and post a new picture and results tomorrow!
Day 2: I’ve added 1 cup of water as the brine did not quite cover the cabbage after sitting for 24 hours. After reviewing several recipes I thought I might have used too much salt, so rather than topping up with brine, I used plain water. The brine is a pretty purple colour, but there are no other changes so far.