52 Weeks of Bad A** Bacteria – Week 9 – The Triple S – Super Simple Sauerkraut

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Super Simple Sauerkraut Recipe Follow Me on Pinterest

UPDATE 7/26/12: I no longer use Mason jars for my ferments (learn why here). I use anaerobic fermenting jars exclusively and the improvement in the taste and texture of my ferments is unbelievable! I encourage everyone to take a look at the information regarding Mason jar ferments and come to a decision that best fits their family. I will be releasing updated versions of these recipes soon, as it applies to these jars. I recommend the anaerobic fermenting systems from my affiliate partner, The Probiotic Jar.

Sauerkraut has to be one of the easiest ferments to make. It only requires two ingredients: cabbage and salt. You can, of course, add in other ingredients to suit your tastes, but if you want pure, unadulterated sauerkraut, then just stick to those two ingredients and you won’t be disappointed. It is most likely the very first ferment for newbies who are just starting out on their fermenting journey. I know it was for me.

I know some of my ferments may be considered a little boring, but my mission with this series is to master some of the basics and as I gradually increase my confidence, I will branch out into more creative recipes. I also want to keep it simple because I want to encourage people to start fermenting in their kitchen, no matter their comfort level. Just pick an easy recipe and do it. Sauerkraut is a great place to start! BTW, I cracked open by jar of pickled Brussels sprouts yesterday for lunch and they are wonderful, so I highly encourage you to try them if you haven’t already!

Follow Me on Pinterest I have only made sauerkraut a couple other times before and both times, they didn’t turn out that great, so I didn’t try it again until just a couple weeks ago. After thinking back on what I did the past two times, I decided that the first time I made kraut, I didn’t like the texture because I chopped the cabbage finely, rather than shredding it. I much prefer shredded kraut. The second time, I used whey and it had a slimy texture, similar to my first experience with lacto-fermented ginger carrots.

After spending many hours reading and re-reading Wild Fermentation (affiliate link) I decided that there was a reason sauerkraut was the first recipe in almost any lacto-fermenting book out there. It’s because it’s easy and virtually foolproof! So, I embarked on my third kraut making venture and after this round, I can confidently say, I think I have a much better handle on the process! It turned out great — crunchy and tangy — and I know it will only continue to get better with age. I completely forgot to take a picture of my own kraut in time for this post, so a big thanks to my sister and brother-in-law from Mighty Grow Organics for letting me use the picture of their recent sauerkraut batch instead!

Sauerkraut (aka. Sour Cabbage) Facts

  • Sauerkraut made its first appearance in China approximately 2,000 years ago, and is suspected to spread to Europe by Genghis Khan.
  • Sauerkraut was renamed “Liberty Cabbage” during the World Wars because Americans wouldn’t buy a product with a German name.
  • Americans consume approximately 387 million pounds of kraut each year.
  • Every year, there are around 330 million pounds of cabbage grown in the US.
  • Kraut is very high in vitamin C, iron, calcium, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, phosphorus, beneficial bacteria, and fiber.
  • Cruciferous veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, turnips, etc.) have been shown to help fight colon cancer.

Now it’s your turn! Have you made kraut before? How does your recipe differ from mine? There are so many different techniques that people use when fermenting and I love hearing everyone’s tips and tricks, so let’s get the discussion started below!

Sources:

Sauerkraut” image from MightyGrow Organics

Sauerkraut” Wikipedia

Cruciferous Vegetables” Wikipedia

Sauerkraut Facts” Bubbies Products

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Sauerkraut and Pickling Crocks and Supplies

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food wellness educator and the founder of the Delicious Obsessions website. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. She began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she's been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

Discussion

19 comments

  1. 2 quick questions.
    When you moved your kraut to cold storage, did you leave the glass of water in the top or did you put a lid on? Also…are roaches attracted to the kraut as it sits on the counter?

    Thank you

    reply 

    Jeremy Mull
    Posted 03/05/12

  2. Great post! Good idea using the glass in the jar. I agree, also, about chopping the cabbage in larger pieces instead of fine shredding. I like the nice crunch I get from thick pieces!

    I think the hardest part of making kraut is finding two appropriate containers that fit together to keep the cabbage submerged in the brine. I usually make large batches. Once, I used my crock pot inserts. I have two that fit the same pot, so they nest together perfectly. For my last batch, I used two ENORMOUS heads of cabbage and used two 5 gallon buckets. It worked great!

    reply 

    Anne
    Posted 03/05/12

    • That is a tricky thing. I had a couple food-grad buckets, but because of the lip around the sides of the buckets, they didn’t fit far enough down to really keep the kraut pushed down. The beauty of it is finding a method that works for you with whatever supplies you already have! Thanks for the photo! 🙂

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 03/07/12

  3. See, now you make me want to try sauerkraut again. I’ve always hated it but I’d only had storebought until last year. I’ve tried making it two or three times since then. No matter which recipe I tried, it always tasted like butt. Maybe a combination of gym socks and sweaty butt. And salt. I’ve tried with just salt & water. I’ve tried with salt & water & whey. I’ve tried with just a tiny bit of salt.

    I so want to like sauerkraut. I really do. *sigh*

    reply 

    Diane
    Posted 03/05/12

    • HAHA! Funny description (but, you’re right!)

      You know, I don’t love sauerkraut. I like it, but I don’t go out of my way to eat it. I have to remind myself to have a small little dish with dinner each night. Defintiely not my fave. I need more flavor, like the kimchi or Brussels sprouts. Those are fantastic!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 03/07/12

  4. I tried sauerkraut once, but it did not go well. Most of my kraut turned a sickly brown, none of which I would eat so we pitched it. I did have some jars stay a nice, perky green and those were okay but a little too salty. not sure what I did wrong; my recipe was quite similar to yours.

    reply 

    Shannon
    Posted 03/06/12

    • Could be that it was exposed to too much oxygen? Or, perhaps that jar got contaminated somehow. I have been experimenting with the salt amounts and I’m getting away with using less and less. I know that it needs a certain amount of salt to work its magic, but some of the recipes I’ve tried have pretty much been inedible! I like Sandor’s method of salting the cabbage as you go along. I feel like you get a more even dispersal of the salt and you can use a little less than other recipes call for.

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 03/07/12

  5. I love adding spices when I make sauerkraut, like peppercorns, juniper berries, cumin, etc. as the cabbage is bland and picks up the flavors so well. I’ve tried with salt brine only and also using my kefir whey. Now I’d like to try your method of salting first and using larger shreds.

    reply 

    Claudia
    Posted 03/10/12

  6. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

    reply 
  7. My recipe is 5 lbs shredded cabbage and 2 Tbls of Canning Salt. Mix it together in sections and pack in a crock. Cover with Doubled Ziploc bags on top of a plate to weigh it down and cover with towel. Check every two days and mix. Let stand 12 days in a cool place. I made 8 gallons last month. So good.

    Forgot the ziplocs has water in then.

    reply 

    Lula Garrett
    Posted 08/15/12

  8. Just a question, I have watched a few different ways of making sauerkraut and isn’t it really important to beat the cabbage down for several minutes, breaking down all the cell walls so that the good bacteria can go to work right away? One woman whom I like to learn from is in New Zealand and I have watched her videos on youtube called Back to Basics.

    Or is that stage not really necessary?

    Thanks

    reply 

    Amy
    Posted 09/30/12

    • The reason that I have always been told that we need to beat it down is to release the juices from the cabbage, so that there is enough self-brine, but your explanation does make sense. The process of packing it into the jars does that for me, so I skip the pounding. By the time I have the jars backed. I have a ton of liquid. This is actually an older recipe where I followed the steps that Sandor Katz outlined in his Wild Fermentation book. I need to go back and update this recipe, so I will double check on that when I do! Hope that helps!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 10/01/12

  9. I make saurkraut lots all my life we are german I just use salt prefer sea salt and water. great put in big mouth jars. turns out OK but last year turned brown i’m ready to do it again this year, so i’ll not put as much in jar this time.

    reply 

    maggie flores
    Posted 04/04/13

  10. What about the odor that comes with making sauerkraut. My husband can’t stand it. Any tips?

    reply 

    mary
    Posted 03/26/14

    • Hi Mary – You can always place the ferments in different rooms if you find it smells. If you have a basement, that is a great place too. I have never really noticed much smell when I make kraut, but maybe my nose is used to it and I don’t even notice! 🙂

      reply 

      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 03/27/14

  11. when i was a child, we made sauerkraut by the barrel. dad wold by 50 of the largest head of cabbage he cold find. after removing the outer leaves he would core it and then cut it into neat quarters. once all was cut and quartered he’d clean/scrub the barrel and several large rocks and let dry. back in the kitchen he’d set up the mandolin between two chairs so that when he sliced the cabbage in fell onto the floor. the flooring was lined with a freshly leaned sheet. as the pile of cabbage grew and there was no more room to shred, dad would take the bundle and spread it onto another clean sheet followed by several hand fulls of salt thrown on as if your feeding chickens. every so often one of us kids would mix the batch by tossing the salted cabbage into the air. when all was shredded,salted and tossed dad would rest for a while, the cabbage was ready to pack when it started to sweat. the barrel, always in a dark cool basement was filled and packed tightly to over flowing then covered with new clean muslin cloth followed by the rocks wrapped in muslin cloth followed by a lean sheet folded into quarters and just placed over top all. nothing was used to tie the top down. every day, in mornings, we would unwrap and wash all the cloths and scrub the rocks then re wrap it all over again making sure it was submerged by the rocks. all the scum was ladelled out every time you washed the muslin. this went on for 2 or3 or 4 weeks…until it stopped producing scum. i think it was ready at that point…taste it to be sure. it makes absolutely no difference where you put the barrel or crock or pail it will reek! our house reeked for weeks. you could smell it when walking by the house on the sidewalk. i’ve made small batches on my counter top, some successfully. make sure everything is as clean as you can get it before starting. my suggestion to you is to ask the old timers from Europe just how they made it before trying. this is all the steps i can remember. good luck and have fun, mary..

    reply 

    mary
    Posted 02/10/15

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