It’s spring and my husband has been itching to fire up the grill to make sausages. After a thorough inspection of our fridge, he discovered that we had tapped out the last massive glass container of his favorite condiment: sauerkraut. This sparked an impromptu dash to the store for cabbage and the start of yet another DIY kitchen adventure in our house.
Sauerkraut (translated to sour cabbage) gets its distinctive sour flavor from lactic acid that forms when the natural sugars in the cabbage are fermented. The basic recipe is to finely shred cabbage, pack it into a container such as a glass jar or ceramic crock, layer with salt and leave it submerged (usually by weighted means) in its liquid to ferment. Easy peasy.
The key unlisted ingredient is, of course, time. Every time my other half tasted our creation, he felt like the final creation was only a mere few hours away. We did tap into it a wee bit early so he could have his sausages — but we put it back under the weight and towel to further the flavor.
- 1 medium cabbage heads
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- Finely shred the cabbage (we used a mandolin)
- Put the cabbage shreds in a glass jar or ceramic crock, layering it with the salt. (We used a gravy/fat separator)
- Let the cabbage/salt create stand for at least an hour. The mixture should start to give off liquid. It’s a good sign. The process has started.
- After an hour, use your hand to compact the shredded mixture. The cabbage should be wilted or limp. If not, continue to let it sit and work it a bit with your hand.
- Once it is limp and there is enough water to cover the mixture, push it down. Using another container with marbles or a plate with a weight, push the salted cabbage below the waterline, eliminating air bubbles. TIP: Make sure the plate/weighted dish is as wide as the container — no air escaping. Also, you may want to put plastic wrap over the mixture before adding the weight.
- Place in dark cupboard or cover with a tea towel and wait. And Wait. We’re talking about four to six weeks. Taste it often (every few days) until it is done to your liking.