Guys, I'm still making sauerkraut! It's been over a year now and we're still going strong, so I think it's an established practice. And why not? It's easy, cheap, good for us, Hadley loves it, and I can't eat a hot dog without it anymore. I've made a complete 180. From being a ketchup-only-girl, I'm now a kraut-and-mustard-girl. What about you? Sauerkraut: love it, hate it, or never had it?
For Christmas, I got a real sauerkraut crock to pack my cabbage into. I already have my first batch going in it! You can find it here, although Grant found the same one cheaper at Ace Hardware. In a 2-gallon crock like this, we were able to fit 3 large heads of cabbage very easily. Next time we'll do 4.
Fresh sauerkraut really does have an awesome flavor. The sourness can be a great addition to your plate once you learn where to mix it in. If you haven't eaten it before, the next time you are having some kind of grilled meat or even a taco, throw a few bites of 'kraut on top and see if you don't think they are made for each other. I think it tastes best on a plate with a little meat and a little bit of sweet. Roasted chicken or a grilled hot dog + sweet squash + sauerkraut = my favorite meal. We also like it alongside our scrambled eggs.
This is my favorite store-bought sauerkraut, which we buy if my homemade batch isn't ready yet. If you want the health benefits of it, it's important to find a sauerkraut that is made using old-world methods (not pasteurized). The only ingredients should be cabbage, salt, and possibly water.
And here's my super simple method for making it, in case you want to try it for yourself....
Old-Fashioned Fresh Sauerkraut
tangy, crunchy, and super healthy / from The Nourishing Gourmet
5 pounds cabbage (about 2 medium or 1 large head)
3 1/2 Tablespoons sea salt (unrefined)
Make sure your prep area and dishes are very clean before you start. You'll need a crock like the one I have, or just a large glass bowl will do very nicely. (I used a big glass bowl before I got my crock) You'll also need a plate or bowl that will fit snugly inside and something to weigh it down.
1. Using a food processor or a well-sharpened knife, shred cabbage. Place in a large bowl. Toss with the salt and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave for an hour or so to allow the salt to draw out the juices.
2. Using your hands, pound the cabbage down and release as much liquid as you can. I think of it as kneading- just turn the mound of cabbage over and pound down, continuing until it's well packed together and lots of juice has been squeezed out.
3. Transfer cabbage and juices to the bowl or crock you'll be fermenting in and pack down with a mallet. Place a clean plate on top and press down firmly, then weigh it down with another dish or a jar of water, or whatever you can find to serve as a weight. The liquid from the cabbage should rise to the top as you press down. You want the juices to cover the plate with room to spare. If the liquid hasn't risen above the plate within 12-24 hours, mix up some salt water (1 cup filtered water + 1 tsp. sea salt) and add as much as you need. Cover crock/bowl with a kitchen towel to protect from dust.
4. Each day, or every other day, remove the plate and rinse it. If you see any "scum" on the surface of the water you can remove it with a spoon. (You won't necessarily see any.) Let your sauerkraut ferment anywhere from 9 to 21 days. You can start sampling it to see when it reaches the depth of flavor that you like. How quickly it ferments will depend on the temperature of your house. At our house, in the dead of winter like we are now, I like mine to have a solid 3 weeks of fermentation. But you can stop the process whenever it tastes good to you.
5. Once it's "ripe" enough, I like to run it through my processor one more time before I bottle it in glass jars and store it in the fridge. (We like the texture of it when it's well-chopped.) It will keep for a lonnng time in the fridge. And then it's done!
And then we eat it with our scrambled eggs every morning!
Why is sauerkraut so good for you? When you lacto-ferment a vegetable (which is what we're doing to the cabbage when we make it into sauerkraut) it increases in vitamins, it becomes more digestible than a raw or cooked vegetable, and you get a ton of good bacteria when you eat it! So, triple bonus!