My first attempt at sauerkraut was a success. It was really easy, too.
1. Clean your fermentation vessel with soap and hot water, and let it dry. I like Sandor Katz’s take on what kind of vessel to use. Katz is the author of The Art of Fermentation (such a great book, and you can buy it at Selene River Press, Inc.). Katz is known as the King of Fermentation. He has a great DIY (affordable!) approach, too, which I admire. I spent $15 on a 1.5-gallon glass cookie jar with a glass lid at a flea market, and it worked perfectly for my sauerkraut.
2. Shred the cabbage. I used two large heads, which yielded ten 16-oz. wide mouth mason jars.
3. Pound, squeeze, and pummel the heck outta the cabbage until it releases liquid. Add the right amount of salt, add spices or herbs (I added caraway seed), mix, and pack the mixture into your fermentation vessel.
4. Pack the cabbage tightly into the vessel until it’s completely submerged. Then place something glass, ceramic, or stone on top to weigh the cabbage down and keep it under the liquid. I put two clean rocks in a glass bowl and used that to weigh down the cabbage. Put the lid on the vessel and set it in a place in your house where it’s 65–72 degrees F. Let it sit there undisturbed for about 20–30 days. Don’t mess with it!
After that, this is what you get!
I transferred the sauerkraut from the big jar to mason jars, then I put some in a cool closet in the house (about 55 degrees) and some in the fridge. I think you’re not supposed to refrigerate ferments, but this is my first time, and I’m not completely comfortable with letting the ferment continue to ferment for a lot longer than 30 days. I put some in cold storage as an experiment and some in the fridge to preserve it at the taste it’s at because it’s delicious right now, and I want to eat it before it gets too funky. I’m open to funky, but this is my first time making sauerkraut, and I don’t want it to be inedible.
I can’t wait to make another batch! Then I’ll be moving on to kimchi. Or maybe beet kvass. I also want to try chutneys. So many choices.