My grandmother came here from Germany during WWII. Sauerkraut was a staple side dish for our German family.
It’s thought to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. Back then, fermentation was one of the methods used to keep foods from spoiling quickly.
Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage with major health benefits! Sauerkraut fermentation creates conditions that promote the growth of beneficial probiotics, which are also found in products like yogurt and kefir.
- Sauerkraut is very nutritious.
- Improves your digestion.
- Boosts your immune system.
- May help you lose weight.
- Helps reduce stress and maintain brain health.
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers.
- May promote heart health.
- Contributes to stronger bones.
- 1 medium cabbage
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of non-iodized salt
- 2–3 carrots, shredded (optional)
- 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
- 2–3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Have a 1-quart (1-liter) jar ready to keep the sauerkraut in, a 4-ounce (120-mL) smaller jar to press it down, and a kitchen scale to weigh your cabbage mixture.
- If you wish to add carrots, caraway seeds, and garlic, start by placing them in a large bowl.
- Discard the outer leaves of your cabbage and slice the cabbage into quarters, leaving the core in. This makes shredding easier.
- Shred the cabbage quarters into the large bowl with the carrot, caraway seeds, and garlic mix. Add enough cabbage to bring the total weight up to 28 ounces (800 grams), which will fit a 1-quart (1-liter) jar.
- Add salt and massage it into the cabbage mixture for a few minutes until brine starts accumulating at the bottom of your bowl.
- Pack the cabbage mixture into a clean, 1-quart (1-liter) jar, pressing down with a wooden spoon to get rid of air pockets. Pour the remaining brine into the jar. Air in the jar enables harmful bacteria to grow, so make sure the mixture is completely submerged.
- Place a quart-sized Ziploc bag into the jar (use one that you know holds a tight seal). Fill the bag with water and seal the bag. This will act as a weight and help to keep all the cabbage submerged. Cover the jar with a towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter.
- Check the sauerkraut after 24 hours. If the cabbage is not entirely submerged in brine, add a saltwater mixture of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup water to the cabbage, just until it is submerged.
- Place the jar somewhere out of the way, away from direct sunlight, to ferment. Fermentation can take 1-4 weeks, depending on the temperature and your desired flavor of sauerkraut. Taste your sauerkraut every few days, and once you like the flavor, remove the bag of water and cover it with an airtight lid. Store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator.
NotesWhile the sauerkraut is fermenting, you may notice it bubbling and foaming. This is normal and can be skimmed off before you refrigerate your sauerkraut.
Keep in mind that the larger the head of cabbage you start with, the sweeter and better your sauerkraut will taste.
If you’re impatient to taste your creation, you can do so after 7 days. The longer you allow it to ferment, the stronger the taste will be.
For a healthy twist to a traditional German experience, I love to server Sauerkraut with grilled Beyond Sausage - Brat Original (spicy brown mustard on the side), Cauli-Mash and Homemade Applesauce.
Beyond Sausage - Brat Original