Hubs doesn’t really cook (I had to inform him that you had to add meat to a can of Manwich to make sloppy joes). He can cook (recently when I was away for week he cooked most nights), he just doesn’t really like to. He is good on the grill, and loves a food project; so he’s always happy to help make sushi, chocolate truffles, or fill dumplings.
The latest project he’s undertaken is making his own sauerkraut. It is actually a very simple process of salting shredded cabbage and leaving it to ferment for a few weeks; which isn’t surprising since pickling vegetables waaaaay pre-dates even the most basic forms of refrigeration. You can buy crocks designed for pickling, but you can also use a reasonably large pot (that you won’t mind being out of service for a few weeks) and something to weight down the cabbage to keep them submerged in the liquid they produce (thus safe from bacterial growth). But fortunately, we had a small tub Hubs used to brew a batch of ‘bret’ beer (a process that affects the plastic and will forever sour future batches of beer, and therefore isn’t used as often as his other beer supplies) and our salad plate fit perfectly to weigh down the cabbage.
To eat the sauerkraut we simply sauteed it in some butter for a side dish. We also made a casserole with bratwurst adapted from here (substituting the brown sugar for a peeled diced apple, and scaling the proportions down for 1 lb of sausage).
I know that sharing this recipe now, won’t get you homemade sauerkraut in time for your 4th of July celebrations (if you celebrate, some of my British readers may mourn). But if you get started soon you’ll have plenty to close out your summer, or a little bit later on for Oktoberfest. Pork and sauerkraut meals are common in German and German-American communities on New Year’s Eve/Day.
Here is what you need to do:
Shred (thinly slice) the cabbages, discarding the cores. We found this much easier using the slicer attachment on the food processor. (To be honest I don’t know that I’d go through the effort of slicing the cabbage with a knife.)
Toss the shredded cabbage with salt and caraway seeds; squeezing the cabbage throughout the process. I recommend doing this in batches.
The cabbage and salt will generate a lot of water fairly quickly. Place a plate (or some other weight) on top of the cabbage to keep it under the water.
It will take at least two weeks for your sauerkraut to ferment, and can be left as long as six weeks.
- salt (non iodonized – Hubs says it’s for better taste and is what I had bought not paying attention to the label)
- caraway seeds
[Use a ratio of 1 tbsp of salt & 1 tbsp caraway seeds per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of cabbage.]
- Cut the cabage into chunks removing the core
- Thinly slice cabbage. I highly recommend using a food processor.
- Massage the salt and caraway seeds into the cabbage slices. [Cabbage will start to release water.]
- Use something (like a plate) to weigh down the cabbage and keep it submerged in the water it generates.
- Put a lid on the container and leave it in a cool place for AT LEAST two weeks, but better for around 4 weeks.