I'm so excited about this post! That may seem strange as it's not particularly sexy (hello Chocolate Glop Cake), but I've wanted to share how to make sauerkraut for so long now and I'm delighted to finally be doing it with this easy recipe (no cabbage massaging required!).
In my opinion, homemade sauerkraut is one of the best kept secrets out there. Not only is it fermented and full of probiotics - so great for gut health, digestion and immunity - but it adds a burst of tangy flavour to any dish. Fermenting the cabbage with salt and garlic gives it a deliciously savoury taste that you'll want to add to all your meals. (I won't be going into the details of why fermented foods are so good for you in this post - I'll leave that to BBC Good Food here.)
I wish I'd known earlier in life how incredibly easy fermenting vegetables is. Requiring just four ingredients (cabbage, garlic, salt and water), all you have to do is leave the mixture on a countertop to ferment for a few days and that's it! There's really no reason not to try it. A child could make it.
My method is a little different to most sauerkraut recipes, in that no massaging of the cabbage is required. I know this isn't the traditional way of making sauerkraut but it's the method I learned from a fantastic nutritionist I worked with several years ago, and I love the simplicity of it!
And if you're like me and have always hated the taste of store-bought sauerkraut (which is usually made with vinegar), fear not! I promise you, homemade sauerkraut has a totally different taste. It's lightly tangy, savoury and salty - much more delicious than anything you could buy.
How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut - Tips (full recipe below)
1) Make sure your glass jar is as clean as possible by washing it in hot water. You don't want any icky bacteria breeding as this will ruin the batch.
2) Try to cut your cabbage into similar sized pieces. This will help all of it to ferment at the same speed.
3) Your sauerkraut will likely have a slightly cabbage-y smell to it! This is - unfortunately - normal as it ferments. It shouldn't be really strong - if it is, the jar probably isn't clean enough.
4) If you get a bit of white scum in your jar as your sauerkraut ferments this is normal. Just scrape it off with a clean spoon!
How to Make Sauerkraut (vegan & gluten-free)
- 1 x 32oz or 1 litre mason jar
- ½ a head (roughly) red cabbage
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 3 cups water
- Set aside one piece of cabbage that's slightly larger than the mouth of the mason jar (shown in above image).
- Slice the rest of the cabbage into roughly 1-inch pieces. Don't worry about trying to make this absolutely perfect - it'll be impossible.
- Peel the garlic and slice each clove in half.
- Ensure your mason jar is totally clean by washing it in hot soapy water.
- Place the garlic in the bottom of the jar, then add the sliced cabbage on top, pressing it down to fit as much in as possible. Fill it up to the neck of the jar.
- Dissolve the sea salt in the water to create a brine. Pour it over the cabbage, right up to about 2cm from the mouth of the jar.
- Fit the large piece of cabbage into the jar on top of the sliced cabbage, tucking the corners down below the neck. This will ensure that nothing floats to the surface while the cabbage is fermenting.
- Make sure the brine level is above the large piece of cabbage, and place a sheet of paper towel on top of the jar, secured with string or an elastic band (shown below).
- Leave on your countertop for 4 days, checking the cabbage each day and topping up the brine if needed. If a white scum appears on top of the cabbage, simply scoop it off with a clean spoon.
- After 4 days, taste the cabbage. If it's fermented to your taste, place a lid on the jar and store in the fridge (it will keep for several months). If not, leave on the countertop for a day or two longer!