31 Aug Got Cabbage? Make Sauerkraut!
When your garden is abundant with full heads of cabbage, it’s time to make sauerkraut. Preserving cabbage in this way not only allows you to eat it all year long but bestows upon your gut some very beneficial bacteria. These natural probiotics are known to improve digestive health along with mental health.
When shredded cabbage is mashed with salt it forms brine creating the perfect environment for fermentation. This lactic acid fermentation process produces billions of beneficial bacteria; know as lactobacillus, which grow well in an anaerobic environment, (one which is free of oxygen). They also like salt unlike other bacteria. So as long as the cabbage stays submerged beneath the brine only the good bacteria survive.
This is one of the easiest cultured foods to make and it doesn’t take much time. In these pictures we are making about 20 pounds, which only takes a few heads of cabbage when they weigh 6-9 pounds each. Our garden loves to grow cruciferous vegetables!
Making Front Porch Sauerkraut
20 pounds of fresh cabbage (green or red)
8 oz non-iodized pickling salt
1 clean 5 gallon bucket with lid
Plate a little smaller than bucket diameter
Grater or Shredder
Clean cutting board
Clean work space
Turning Cabbage in Sauerkraut
Remove all outer leaves. The inner cabbage should be tight and clean. Wash to remove any debris. Cut and core the heads checking for any unwanted dirt or critters. Shred the cabbage into the clean bucket and mash with fists or clean mashing device. Sprinkle the salt periodically on the cabbage. This will soften the cabbage and create liquid brine that will hopefully be sufficient cover when all the cabbage is shredded. If more liquid is needed add filtered water. There should be a 2 -3 inches of brine covering the cabbage when done.
Cut a couple of layers of cheese cloth to cover the cabbage and keep it all together to avoid floaters. Then, place the plate over the cheese cloth covered cabbage using a clean non-reactive weight on top to hold it all in place below the brine level. Burp the plate to make sure there is no air trapped beneath. Cut a small hole in the bucket lid to let the fermenting gases to escape but cover this with some cheesecloth to keep unwanted pests out during the fermentation process. Place the lid on the bucket and store it at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, checking daily and skimming off any forming film or unwanted escaped floaters.
After a week place it in a cool area and keep it undisturbed for another 5 weeks. When the 5 weeks is up, skim off the top layer of brine and place fermented sauerkraut in jars with airtight lids. These can be stored in the refrigerator throughout the year.
After one week it can be placed in the refrigerator to finish fermenting but there may be less bacteria growth in a cooler environment. If you just want to sample the process, try fermenting a small amount in a single mason jar.
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