Sauerkraut came to Europe via Asia, where people have been pickling cabbage for thousands of years. Because of its high vitamin C content, it was very useful in preventing scurvy and keeping people healthy throughout the winter months when no fresh food was available.
To make your own sauerkraut you will rely on the bacteria found on the cabbage leaves. The salt draws out the water and kills off the spoilage bacteria. You will need between a 0.6% and 2% salt concentration, which equals 3/4 to 2 teaspoons of table salt per pound of prepared cabbage.
Makes 1 quart.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 8-10 cups shredded cabbage, loosely packed (about 2 lbs), about 1 cabbage
- 10 juniper berries
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
- 1-2 tsp. un-iodized or pickling salt
- 1 c. filtered water mixed with 1 tsp. salt
In a clean, non-metallic bowl, mix cabbage, juniper berries, caraway, mustard seeds, and salt. Stir cabbage to release juices. Let rest 10 minutes then mix again. You may let this rest longer (1-2 hours) if needed.
Sterilize jar and lid by boiling for several minutes in water and draining on a clean dishcloth.
Pack into a sterilized quart-sized, wide-mouthed jar, pushing down with a wooden mallet. Add filtered, or non-chlorinated, salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water) water to rim of jar and cap loosely with a sterilized canning lid. Place jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. Keep jar between 65°F and 72°F for 2-3 weeks.
After bubbling stops, check container and top off with salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water, warm slightly to dissolve completely) water if level falls below rim. Skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in the refrigerator until you use it up.
More: German sauerkraut is made using salt, whereas Kimchi is made with rice wine. Both create a favorable environment for fermentation. Canned sauerkraut should be rinsed in a colander prior to eating, to reduce the briny flavor, but fresh sauerkraut does not have to be. Sauerkraut may be eaten raw, as a garnish or salad, or cooked, with apples, bacon and onions. It is low in calories, too.