Fermentation was one of the first forms of food preservation. Salt helps to preserve foods—even without refrigeration. Sauerkraut is an ancient recipe, used to add flavor to meals—and also provide probiotics, which help support healthy immune function, among other benefits.
This recipe is quite simple, and even easier than most pickle recipes you may see. Sea salt helps to pull all water from the cabbage while protecting it from mold and fungus. If fermentation interests you, pick up a copy of Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation for more recipes, tips and tricks.
- 1 head cabbage, organic and as fresh as possible (red, green, savoy—or a mix of varieties)
- 2 Tbsp caraway seeds
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- Optional: shredded veggies, such as onion, carrots, or peppers
- Sanitize a 1 quart/1 liter glass mason jar (wide mouth preferable) by submerging in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from water, and set aside to cool upside down on a clean tea towel.
- Do NOT wash your cabbage! Instead, peel off the outer leaves of your head cabbage, and reserve one outer leaf for later use. Core and shred or grate cabbage.
- In a large bowl, combine spices and cabbage. Massage with your hands until cabbage has wilted.
- Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let sit 1 hour.
- Continue to massage and squeeze your cabbage until there is enough cabbage juice/liquid to cover the shredded cabbage in your bowl.
- Transfer cabbage and liquid to sanitized mason jar. Press down cabbage so liquid completely covers the leaves.
- Use the peeled cabbage leaf you saved to cover the shredded cabbage and liquid in your mason jar.
- Lightly screw on the lid of your jar. Because fermenting vegetables release CO2 that can cause a sealed jar to burst if allowed to build up too long, be sure to open the jar to release built-up CO2 at least every 12 hours.
- Put the jar in a cool, dry place for 1 to 4 days. Check on the sauerkraut every day, tasting and pressing sauerkraut down below liquid.
- Doneness in fermented sauerkraut is a matter of personal preference. Taste your sauerkraut daily until it reaches desired sourness. (Ferment longer if you like it more sour, or shorter if you don’t).
- Refrigerate sauerkraut once fermentation is complete and desired sourness is reached.
- Note: refrigeration will slow— but not completely stop—the fermentation process. Keep the lid screwed on lightly, and—if you can resist devouring your sauerkraut right away—periodically open the jar to release any built-up CO2.
Sauerkraut will keep for a minimum of 3 months. Use it as a condiment with any plant-based meal.