Sauerkraut can be made from almost any vegetable, it’s really a personal choice, however, cabbage is commonly used. For best results, it’s best to buy organic vegetables because they contain good bacteria and the pesticides and other harmful chemicals in non-organic vegetables slows down or even ruins the fermenting process
Fermenting vegetables is easy as all you need is vegetables and salt. For every kilogram of vegetables, you need around 1 to 1.5 tablespoon of salt. Bear in mind that it’s not good to use iodized salt as the iodine inhibits the bacteria’s growth significantly; I usually use Celtic grey sea salt. The salt serves to extract the water from the vegetable cells, which then is used as liquid to ferment the vegetables in. Lastly, you need a jar with an air tightening lid. I like to use a clip top jar.
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
500g red cabbage
100g carrots, coarsely grated
70g beetroot, coarsely grated
130g fennel, finely sliced
30g fresh parsley, chopped
250g cauliflower, chopped (approximately 1cm)
½ to1 garlic bulb (depending on your test), roughly sliced
50g fresh ginger, roughly sliced
1.5 tbsp sea salt
Grind all the seeds in a spice grinder and set aside.
Remove one or two outer leaf of the cabbage and set aside, then, cut the cabbage into quarters and trim off the base from each wedge. Finally, shred the cabbage with a knife or preferably with a mandoline.
Add all the vegetables in a large bowl, followed by the ground seeds, garlic, and ginger. You can also use a ceramic bowl or food-safe plastic container. Better not to use a metal utensil as it can have a negative impact on the brine.
Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables. Then, wash your hands before massaging and squeezing the vegetables with your hands for approximately 5 to10 minutes. The vegetables will gradually become watery and limp and shrink in size. Continue until there’s a significant amount of liquid when you press it down. At this point, if the vegetables have not released enough liquid, then leave it aside for 30 minutes and then give it another massage. The amount of liquid you can extract from the vegetables will largely depend on how fresh your vegetables are,
Transfer the vegetables and the liquid in phases to a jar but in between firmly press the vegetables. It is really important to make sure all the vegetables are fully submerged in the liquid. Any part of the vegetables that are not covered in the liquid won’t be protected by the acid and will therefore go mouldy. Also, do not completely fill the jar, leave approximately 5-8cm from the top as the brine may bubble up from under the lid.
Weigh down the cabbage so it’s completely covered by the liquid, place the reserved outer cabbage leaf on top of the liquid followed by a weight on top; I use weights that I purchased from amazon, but you could use a clean stone or a clean egg cup or a shot glass. Close the lid pressing the weight(s) down tightly to keep the cabbage and brine below the cabbage leave.
Keep an eye on the sauerkraut through the first week. The fermentation produces carbon dioxide, so pressure will build up in the jar and will need to be released daily, especially in the first few days when fermentation will be most vigorous. To relieve pressure slightly open and close the lid just enough to release the gas; this process is called “burping”.
The rate of fermentation will be faster in a warm environment and slower in a cool environment. Some people prefer their sauerkraut lightly fermented over just a few days; others prefer a stronger, more acidic flavour that develops over weeks or months. Along with the flavour, the texture changes over time, becoming crunchy and gradually softening.
In general, after 7 days you can eat the sauerkraut or allow it to ferment further for a deeper flavour. I like to ferment my vegetables for 2 weeks.
Once ready, store the jars in the fridge for up to 6 months. The vegetables will continue to ferment while in the fridge but at a much slower rate. To prevent the Sauerkraut going bad, open the jars one at a time and do not use a greasy spoon while removing the sauerkraut to prevent it from going bad.