Sauerkraut is a fermented food packed with good bacteria which are supposed to aid digestion and boost your immune system. Homemade sauerkraut is delicious and you can experiment with making all different kinds. I made this one with red cabbage for a great, festive colour. It's very important that you follow the steps about packing the cabbage down regularly. If not, it can develop mould, and in that case you should discard the whole batch. I have never had a problem though and as long as you keep pressing it down, you should be fine too.
- 1 red cabbage
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp sea salt
Here’s how you make it
- Peel off the first few layers of the cabbage, wash them and set aside for later. Wash the remaining cabbage too.
- Now you need to chop the cabbage finely. I usually chop it in half, cut out a triangle from each side to remove the core and then place each half with the flat side down. Slice the first half into slices around 1 or 2 cm thick.
- Turn the slice on its side and chop that finely, starting at one of the points, moving into the middle and over to the far edge. Repeat with the other slices, and the second half until all the cabbage is chopped. It doesn’t all need to look uniform, and if you have a food processor, you can use that to really speed things up.
- Grate the carrots and slice the onion finely, you can do this however you want, I chop it in half and slice, and then it all breaks apart into smaller pieces when you mix everything together.
- In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrot and onion and the salt. With your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage mixture. Do this for about 5 minutes until there is no cabbage left unsalted. The water will start to come out of the vegetables and the salt will begin to dissolve. If you have any cuts on your hands, I advise you to wear latex gloves, because this will sting otherwise.
- Transfer everything into a large glass container. Never use a plastic container. If your hand fits inside the container, reach in and pack the mixture down tightly. As you do this you will see more liquid come out. This is good. If your hand doesn’t fit, fill a clean glass jar with something like rice or lentils and use that to pack it down.
- Now take the cabbage leaves you removed earlier and place these over the sauerkraut. You can pack it down again with your hand or the jar. This stops the slices floating on the surface.
- Cover with a cloth or kitchen roll and a bit of string or an elastic band. Pack it down again in a few hours. The aim is for the liquid to cover the cabbage, usually within about 24 hours. Anything that is above the water line could end up getting mouldy, so if after 24 hours you can’t pack it down enough to get it under water, you can add a little water to the mixture.
- I recommend you keep your fermenting sauerkraut at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Little bubbles of gas will form throughout the mixture, which is a good sign. If you pack it down once a day, you will see them rise to the surface, and it just makes sure that no cabbage is above the surface. I leave the jar of lentils on top of the cabbage leaves, to keep them weighted down.
- After two weeks the sauerkraut might be ready. Open it up and try a forkful. If you like it more sour, leave it a bit longer. If it’s how you like it, transfer it into smaller glass jars and press down and keep in the fridge.
- Enjoy it as a side dish, or give a jar to someone as a Christmas present!