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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 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 a 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!

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 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!

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