About twenty minutes north-west of the town I grew up in is a little city nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The peaks of the mountains looked down on the city and were snow-capped almost year-round. It's an awesome place.
To boot, it's a Bavarian town. Polka music, themed buildings and decor, sausage, and…
Amongst the shops, down a flight of hidden stairs, sits one of my favorite restaurants. They serve homemade sausages with the most fantastic sauerkraut and fresh mustard.
Did I mention they also serve delicious beer?
Point being, when I think of sauerkraut, I think of this restaurant. I think of cold winter days spent walking around the streets of this Bavarian village with a belly full of sausage. It's a pretty dang good feeling.
A few weeks ago I picked up three heads of cabbage from Chip, a local farmer. Cut straight from the ground that morning, it was hard to “beet” (get it? beet?) the freshness. I think that only adds to the deliciousness of this sauerkraut.
And in the tradition of fermented probiotic goodness, well, I'd like to introduce you to a new kind of sauerkraut. A fermented sauerkraut recipe. One that is raw and alive with healthy bacteria. Eaten throughout generations to cure and prevent gut-diseases and disorders, it's proven itself worthy of our love and affection.
You love the sauerkraut and the sauerkraut loves you right back. Well, technically it loves your gut, but you know what I mean.
Eat this fermented sauerkraut with your favorite sausage. Or alongside some delicious pulled pork. Or atop a grass-fed hamburger patty. Or simply as a condiment alongside your supper. A few tablespoons is enough to do the trick.
Your small intestine is thanking you as we speak.
You will need:
– One to two medium heads of organic cabbage
– 2 tablespoons sea salt
– 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Step One: Using a knife or a food processor, shred the cabbage into thin strips. Place in a large bowl.
Step Two: Add in the salt and the fennel.
Step Three: Use a wooden spoon (or meat hammer) to smoosh and massage the liquid out of the cabbage. This takes about ten minutes. Get it nice and pulverized and juicy.
Step Four: Wash and dry a mason jar. Then, add a bit of the cabbage into the mason jar. Use your wooden spoon to help smoosh the cabbage tightly into the jar (we want to make it as tight as possible). Add more cabbage, then squish some more. Add more cabbage, than squish some more. You get the idea?
After all the squishing, the liquid should reach the top of the cabbage. If it doesn't, press down some more so that all of the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. The liquid should remain at least one inch below the top of the jar so there is room for some expansion during the fermentation process. Cover the jar with a lid.
Step Five: Let the jar sit out on your counter for three days, at which point, it can be moved into the refrigerator. like most fermented vegetables and fruits, the flavor will increase and intensify over time – yum!
I have a feeling ours won't last that long. We're eating it alongside some Boston Butt and rice pilaf tonight for supper. And later this week, we're having a sausage and cabbage extravaganza with some friends.
What? You don't have sausage and cabbage extravaganzas with your friends?
Well you should. Especially when your cabbage is fermented, baby. Things get crazy.
- One to two medium heads of organic cabbage
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Using a knife or a food processor, shred the cabbage into thin strips. Place in a large bowl.
- Add in the salt and the fennel.
- Use a wooden spoon (or meat hammer) to smoosh and massage the liquid out of the cabbage. This takes about ten minutes. Get it nice and pulverized and juicy.
- Wash and dry a mason jar. Then, add a bit of the cabbage into the mason jar. Use your wooden spoon to help smoosh the cabbage tightly into the jar (we want to make it as tight as possible). Add more cabbage, then squish some more. Add more cabbage, than squish some more. You get the idea?
- After all the squishing, the liquid should reach the top of the cabbage. If it doesn’t, press down some more so that all of the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. The liquid should remain at least one inch below the top of the jar so there is room for some expansion during the fermentation process. Cover the jar with a lid.
- Let the jar sit out on your counter for three days, at which point, it can be moved into the refrigerator. like most fermented vegetables and fruits, the flavor will increase and intensify over time – yum!
I am so with you on the wonderfulness of sauerkraut! I fermented my first batch awhile back and we have enjoyed it immensly! I do have a question that I haven’t been able to find the answer to. What is the best way to store it? If it was canned, I could leave it on the pantry shelf but I fermented it. I have what is left of the last jar in my fridge. The reason I ask is that I would love to have a bunch of it around, you know for those sausage and sauerkraut extravaganzas, but I don’t have enough room in my fridge to store a bunch of jars.Thanks!
Tracy, my understanding is that the sauerkraut needs to be kept in ‘cool storage’ – otherwise, it will continue to ferment (too much fermentation isn’t always a good thing). The coolness of the fridge stops the fermentation at the right point.
It freezes nicely in baggies.
Try to add one small shredded carrot to cabbage it’s tasting really good 🙂
Are you talking about Leavenworth? I visited there a few years ago and it was such a fun town! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂
How long do you leave it out to ferment? Then, I take it that you store in the fridge? Also, for the lid, is it just a regular canning jar lid? You dont have to have like a cheesecloth cover to allow it to breath or anything while fermenting? I have just the perfect head of cabbage I can use today for it!
Jessica, I use a regular canning lid. Leave it out for three days. Then refrigerate!
If you use a big bowl so you can work with it with your hands, layer your cabbage, caraway and salt, then squeeze your cabbage with your hands, working the salt in, push it away to the sides of the bowl (massage), bring it to the middle and squeeze (hug), all the while thinking good happy thoughts. This is a better way than to beat it and bruise it to get the water out. I read about this method in an article about an old Korean Grandma (grandmaster) and it was a ritual for her to make Kimchi each week and her family swears by the flavor. I love to do it, thinking about that grandma, making for her family with love and tender intent, the food that they would eat with each meal. A much better experience overall and it works so well. I make a cross between sour kraut/salad adapted from that kimchi recipe/story with thin slices of radishes, oranges, zucchini, lots of garlic, carrots, pear, cabbage, fresh beans, cauliflower, broccoli, only use your favorite vegetables, it is very good. I leave out the hot pepper sauce and never add white onions, they turn bitter and ruin the batch (trust me). It makes a lovely condiment or side salad to eat with each meal. Just a couple of tablespoons each meal will do your tummy so good, and the color and variety of vegetables makes it a party on your plate that you don’t get tired of! If you want to read the story and see the recipe that inspired me, go to: http://www.treelight.com/health/nutrition/UltimateKimchi.html, it is a good read and a very good lesson on the intent we should have in our hearts when we undertake a task.
Love this, Dona! Thank you!
LOVE spending a winter day in L. 🙂 Hope you get a chance to go there when you come home! And Ive only really ever eaten at Gustav’s when I go out there. Time to start creeping down stairways, in search of this hidden gem!
OMG! I went to Leavenworth on my honeymoon!! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Did I mention that I L.O.V.E it there? It is probably my favorite place in Washington! We rented a house for Christmas there last year and went on a sleigh ride on Christmas morning while the snow was coming down, yes a sleigh ride on Christmas! Who does that? It was like living in a snow globe, or a post card…….er, you get it! Plus I am making this sauerkraut this weekend! Oh baby………here come some amazing Rubens!!
This recipe sounds really good! I’ve heard that some people use a prepackaged “starter”. Is it not necessary? Thanks, in advance.
I’ve never used one so I really can’t say, but I surely haven’t found it necessary! This recipe has worked every time for me!
I’ve never made (or tasted) sauerkraut before, but I’d like to try. What size jars do you use and how jars many should I have for this recipe? Since “The liquid should remain at least one inch below the top of the jar” is the liquid that is squeezed out of the cabbage the only liquid needed? Does the liquid need to completely cover the cabbage for the three-day waiting period? Thanks!!!
Nathan and Carla
Just made this sauerkraut for the first time on Thursday evening. Tonight (day 3) it was sitting on the counter and nearly exploded! I guess the one inch rule should be two inches for larger mason jars! Also I had the lid on tight, not sure if that is a good idea in hindsight. The ensuing chaos reminded me of your bee story, except spraying sauerkraut juice! After everything settled down we ate the top layer to subdue it back into the jar. Quite tasty! Home school is for the parents too!
Love your cook book too…now covered with sauerkraut juice. 🙂
Nathan and Carla
I have Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions. She uses whey in her fermenting process for cabbage. Is this not necessary? And why don’t you use whey? A curiosity question.
I didn’t use whey because don’t always have it, so I substitute extra salt for a similar purpose.
Shaye, may I leave out the fennel without messing up the process? Thank you!
Shaye, help! I just tried my first bite of my first batch of sauerkraut. Holy salt! It just tasted like cabbage and turn your tongue inside out salty. I shredded 1 head cabbage and 2 tablespoon pink salt, squished and squished and put in a jar like you said. Counter for 5 days. My house is about 68 degrees. Is this what it is supposed to taste like? Not a fennel fan, so I left that out. Thanks for any help you can give.
Was it a small head of cabbage? I’d just dump it out, add in another head of fresh cabbage, and re-ferment it!
How long does it stay good in the fridge?
This looks great! I tried making my own kraut about a year ago, but got rather discouraged; I think I had it in a spot in the house that was too warm. I may try again, using your recipe.
I’ve never met anyone who has actually lived in that town. Haha. I always thought it would be an interesting place to grow up in. I’m from ellensburg so we go quite often.
Oh my heavens. Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I have JUST discovered you today, and, why oh why has it taken me so long. I’m recently married, recently moved from the city to the country. We buy Raw milk from down the road, we grind our own wheat, we are just starting to try Einkorn, and I will be homeschooling in a few years with my own little one. All of this is so foreign to me. And you touch on all of this right here! Oh man, I can’t wait to rip through these recipes and buy your book! Ack! Thank you!
Well welcome Krystal!! I am so glad you found us too!! I hope you continue to enjoy the blog and that you will enjoy the book 🙂 !!
Does canning sauerkraut kill the lactic acid and all the alive goodness
I make it in a jar with the rubber ring that locks down I burp it every morning and evening after work I also keep it covered in a dark cloth to keep light out is all this necessary I’m not sure but it works and no bombs
Hi from New Hampshire!
How do you recommend long term storage in a root cellar?? I always see “ferment on te counter and then store in the fridge”. I would like to know how to keep the health benefits while keeping it on the shelves until winter comes and we need to use all the foods we prepaired and preserved in the summer/fall, for the winter months when we cant grow our own food.
I remember living in a small town outside of Nürnberg called Roßtal for just over three years.One of our favorite things was Fest season, or basically summer and early fall… between the the food and the beer, we never wanted to leave
Based on those memories I made this, but with a few cloves of local garlic chopped in as well (that imported stuff is okay but lacks flavor.)
I used a German style crock that uses a water ring around its lid to let out gas without letting air in. Sat on my counter for three weeks. Jarred it and gave a couple of the small ones to friends who asked for it. Got a tremendous response! I usually try to have at least a forkful a day, and my second batch completed and was packed last night. The flavor, especially with German or Polish style sausgae, takes me back. Thank you.
Shaye! You’re so brilliant! I will be trying this recipe in the future!
Last weekend, I made up a large batch of fermented kraut (about 2.5 to 3 gallons of it!)
Let me tell ya, everyone in the house can smell that aroma! Phew! I took a different approach to my fermenting process due to the size of batch I made. It’s actually being fermented in a bucket with weights to keep the solids below the juice. I will be moving it from our basement out to our garage (not insulated) as it’s very cold here in Kansas right now and my garage will act as our “fridge”. This weekend I will probably take the kraut and divide it up into half gallon jars.
Fermented kraut is the super food of all super foods!
I will add that many people may read my first comment and think, “fermenting in a bucket? How gross?” Or disagree with fermenting in my basement. However, I have no qualms with this and understand how one person does something, the next may not be comfortable with. But I would encourage all to remember that much of what we’re taught about food, what is safe and what is not, is determined by associations that back many methods that AREN’T safe in the first place, that aren’t organic and that don’t have our environment and human well being at the forefront of their minds.
I’m new to your community. How long can the fermented sauerkraut be stored in the fridge or cool place. Thank you for sharing.
When you say cover with lid are you not screwing on the metal ring on then? And just placing the flat lid to sit on top?