Sauerkraut: Naturally Fermented

from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

Allow 1-4 weeks for fermentation.

5 lbs. cabbage
3 Tablespoons sea salt

Chop or grate cabbage finely or however you like it.  Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop, so that you can salt it as you go.  Add other vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic, etc.)  Add dill seeds or caraway seeds.  Mix ingredients together and pack into a crock (or food grade plastic bucket from the bakery section of your supermarket) in small portions.

Tamp down the cabbage tightly into the crock and force the water out of the cabbage.  Cover the cabbage with a plate or other lid that fits snugly inside the crock.  Place a clean weight (jar filled with water) on the cover.  The weight will force water out of the cabbage and keep it submerged under the brine.  Cover the crock with a dish towel or cloth to keep out dust/flies.

Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and force water out of it.  Do this every few hours, until the brine rises above the plate.  If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine above the plate.  Add about 1 T. of salt to 1 cup of water and stir until completely dissolved.

Leave the crock to ferment.  Check it every day or two.  The volume reduces as the cabbage ferments.  Sometimes mold/scum appears on the surface.  It referred to a “bloom”.  Skim what you can off the surface.  Don’t worry if you cannot get it all.  It is a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air.  The cabbage is under the anaerobic protection of the brine.  Rinse off the plate and weight, and taste.  After a few days, it will taste tangy, getting stronger as the time goes on.  In cool temperatures, it will ferment slowly for months and months as it improves in flavor.  In a heated room or during the summer, it will ferments more rapidly and becomes soft.

Scoop out some to keep in the refrigerator.  The flavor will evolve over the several weeks of fermentation.  Each time you scoop some cabbage out of the crock, repack it carefully.  Make sure the cabbage is tightly packed and the brine covers the plate. Add more salted water if the brine evaporates.   Keep it submerged.

Keep the sauerkraut juice as a digestive tonic.

Now try beets or carrots.

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