Photo by Tam West
Sauerkraut is German for sour cabbage. It is great as a side dish to rich meat or sausages, as a sandwich filling (we have become addicted to toasted sandwiches filled with dijon mustard, melted cheese and sauerkraut!), in German style pasta or as an accompaniment to plain boiled potatoes. This is easy and cheap as it has only two ingredients, cabbage and salt. For success all you have to do is stick to the method. Read more on sauerkraut and ways to use it.
- Discard the coarse outer leaves and stalk from the cabbage . Slice very thinly, rinse thoroughly in cold water and drain well.
- Put the cabbage and salt into a very large non-reactive bowl and thoroughly massage the salt through the cabbage with clean hands.
- Cover and reserve for 1 hour so that the salt draws the liquid out of the cabbage.
- Pack tightly into a very large sterilised jar (or several smaller ones) or other non-reactive container and be careful to pour all the liquid over the top. The container needs to be big enough so there is room at the top to weight down the cabbage and for all the liquid produced to cover it.
- Push the cabbage down very tightly with a sterilised wooden spoon so the liquid covers the cabbage.
- Cover with a sterilised small plate that fits over the surface of the cabbage and add a weight on the plate to hold the cabbage under the liquid (a sterilised jam jar filled with water works well). It is very important the cabbage stays under the liquid at all times.
- Cover with a piece of clean cotton cloth and a rubber band so the carbon dioxide can escape but no dust or dirt can get in.
- Over the next two days, uncover and push down frequently on the cabbage to compress it as much as possible and release more liquid. Recover the container with the cloth after each push-down.
- Leave for 2 to 6 weeks in a dark place at between 18-24C. After about 14 days the sauerkraut can be moved somewhere with a colder temperature, 6-10C. It will be fully fermented in 4-6 weeks. Mine was ready to eat in three weeks and although still a little raw it tasted delicious.
- Small bubbles will appear as the mixture ferments but if any scum or mould appears, scoop it out immediately with a clean spoon. If you see scum or mould, smell the sauerkraut — funnily enough it should smell sweetly like sauerkraut. If not, (if it smells the least bit sulphurous) you will need to start the process again with new ingredients.
- Once done, discard the cloth, cover with an airtight sterilised lid and store in the fridge in its fermentation container. It will last about 2-3 months.