Fermenting Sauerkraut

A few years back I took a class with Marisa from Food in Jars.  If you love canning, or want to try your hand at canning, she has a great site with lots of information and recipes.   Anyway, at the class, she taught us how to turn cabbage into a fermented sauerkraut.  I have been using her recipe for years now and we just love it.   I add fennel seeds to mine, you can add either fennel or caraway (or leave it plain), and I like the way the fennel tastes in the finished product.

sauerkraut, day 1

I had always heard horror stories about fermented sauerkraut – exploding jars, horrible odors, mold, you name it.  It was the reason I decided to take the class instead of following a recipe, I wanted someone to SHOW me how it was done.   Really, I should never have listened to those folks and their horror stories.  Fermenting sauerkraut is one of the easiest things to do.  It takes some muscle, that much I won’t kid you about, but really, all you are doing is shredding cabbage, tossing it with salt (and fennel or caraway, if desired) then smashing the heck out of it (here is where the muscles come into play!) to break down the cabbage and release some of the liquid from the cabbage.   Once you have a nice amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, you tightly pack it into jars, pressing down so the cabbage is covered with liquid, and lightly tightening a lid.

You don’t want to over fill the jars or tightly fasten the lid, you need the gases to be able to escape, so you don’t have an exploding jar!  I keep mine in a dark kitchen cabinet and check it daily.  I use a spoon to press the cabbage down everyday, keeping it submerged in the liquid.  I haven’t experienced mold growing yet, and I have been at this for years, but it can happen, just use a spoon to remove it and make sure the cabbage is completely covered by liquid.

In a few weeks, you should start testing your sauerkraut, once it is as tangy as you like it, simple put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.    I am so glad I was able to make a batch now, I plan on using the sauerkraut to make pierogi’s in late September and the kraut should be about perfect by that time!

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