Sauerkraut is one of those German dishes that always seems like you should make it yourself, and I had decided a long time ago to give it a try – but I must admit I was a bit intimidated to try it out on actual real Germans. I managed to get up the courage a few weeks ago though and got it started. It’s pretty simple – cabbage, salt, vinegar, sugar – it just takes some time to get it ready to eat.
You can use any type of cabbage, but the traditional ones are the plain green ones sold here (and maybe everywhere?) as white cabbage. I had also stored in my mind a long time ago the very useful advice that caraway seeds are a necessary addition to the fermenting process of sauerkraut making – they remove the, ahem, bubble-forming process in one’s belly after you eat it. Good to know, right? So I chopped up my cabbage into thinnish strips and sprinkled caraway seeds through – I used about 3 tablespoons to a one kilogram cabbage which was probably a bit too much, one to two would have been sufficient. I sprinkled through a good couple of tablespoons of salt, too, a tablespoon of sugar, and poured about half a cup of vinegar through and mixed it all together. I got some good open-topped glass containers and split the mix through them. The trick with sauerkraut, I’ve learned, is that you need to have liquid covering the whole mixture to allow the fermenting process to get going. This means having a weight on top of the cabbage mix to push out the air. I had some big jars of fruit which were only slightly narrower than the opening of my jars and squished them down. Weight and container should both be glass or ceramic, or at least not metal.
I’d been told that the liquid will seep out of the cabbage a bit and you just have to check it a few times in the first 24 hours. After then, top it up with salt water if needed, to cover all the cabbage. Then wander off for two or three weeks. Well, actually you should check it every couple of days to make sure it’s not drying out. It should therefore be stored somewhere you’ll see it but that it won’t be in your way. I had mine up on a shelf in my kitchen. Keep it out of the sun, too.
After a few weeks (actually it ended up being three and a half weeks, oops I almost forgot it…) I opened up the kraut and cooked some up. There is TONS of this from one cabbage, so I put the rest in the fridge in a airtight container and I’m assured that it will be fine for months there.
I cooked it up and served it alongside potatoes and schnitzel in a super-German traditional meal. Dom loved it! Me too, to be honest 🙂
Fermented vegetable meals are supposed to be amazing for the digestive system, so that’s a plus, too. Yummy and good for you is my favourite combination. Sauerkraut is tangy, salty, crunchy tastiness. If I do say so myself. Lecker, as they say here. Tasty.
OK that’s enough self-congratulation for now, sorry about that! Have you ever made homemade sauerkraut, or other traditional foods? How did it go? Got any tips for me?