When I made my first batch of sauerkraut I was scared to death. It was my first go at fermentation and all the recipes I checked and cross checked kind of confused me even more. Truth is, it's SO EASY! And borderline impossible to fuck up. It's also insanely good for your immunity, digestion, and gut health, and expensive to buy the nice stuff. SO here's a little breakdown of how you can make your own kraut, as much as you want, without a recipe.
Some key points:
Cabbage submerged in a salted brine will naturally create all the necessary bacteria needed to lacto-ferment. Cabbage that is not submerged in the brine will not ferment. Cool?
Your ideal room temperature for fermenting is 62-70 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not need a thermometer, if your kitchen is hot as hell, store it in a cupboard.
After three days you are good to go, taste it after three days and decide if you'd like it a little softer, a little funkier. You can ferment up to ten days.. When it's where you like it, stick it in the fridge.
As this ferments it will bubble up and sometimes over. I bought a big-mama mason jar and my raw cabbage only came up about halfway. This is ideal because it won't bubble over with all that extra space.
If the cabbage isn't under the brine it'll turn brown. Brown cabbage=garbage.
Keep pressing the cabbage down over the days. This releases more brine and keeps your kraut nice and safe under the liquid.
If it smells like shit and alarm bells are going off in your head, don't eat it.
strong Ammonia smell = it's fucked up
Funky, vinegar-y, cabbage-y= totally fine, hooray you did it!
Almonds = you have brain cancer
"Delicious! Wish I could wear it as perfume" = you're pregnant.
1: don't wash your cabbage, peel the outer leaves off (save a nice one) core and shred .
2: add enough salt to season it. The fermentation is gonna happen no matter what. Not an exact amount of salt here, maybe two teaspoons per cabbage? The point here is to taste it and make sure it's salted to your taste.
3: Play jazz! Add any or none of the following: a grated carrot (I used a purple one!) beet, or apple, pickling spice, mustard seed, caraway, allspice,garam masala, bay leaf, peppercorn etc. you could add a ginger knot or garlic cloves if you wanted as well.
4: let this sit in the covered jar overnight.
5: Really press the cabbage down to release more liquid. You want the brine to cover the cabbage by about half an inch. If it doesn't do this, don't panic! Make a light brine with 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 1/4 cups of warm water and add enough of this to cover the kraut.
6: grab your extra cabbage leaf and negotiate it on top of the brine in a way that the cabbage stays submerged. Depending on what kind of container you use you could use a smaller jar or a small plate (if you're using a pot) to weigh it down.
7: wait three days, the only adjusting you'll need to do is once a day press the cabbage down more into the brine if it's started to loosen.
8: TRY it. You'll be a bit nervous, don't be. It's okay!
9: get hooked! Add it to everything and make more when you run out!
I've been cooking since I was seven. Institute of Culinary Education grad and NYC trained chef. Food dork. Health nut. Bounty Hunter of beige foods. I don't think there needs to be a separation between food that's good and food that's good for you.