Join Cara-Lee Langston of Wildcraft Kitchen as she delves into the world of fermentation. This week, Cara shows us an easy method for fermenting cabbage at home. Sauerkraut only requires a few simple ingredients, but is a blank flavor canvas that can be customized based on what’s available in your pantry and what your personal tastes are!
Sauerkraut (From The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery)
“You make your kraut when your cabbage is tender. You wash and dry your cabbage and chop them up. I’ve got a little chopper that my husband made for me that looks like a little hoe. I’ve got a small churn jar that’s great big around and holds about four gallons. It’s good to chop in. I put my cabbage in there and chop it up. Then, I pack it in a big jar and put a layer of cabbage and a little salt, more cabbage and more salt. Then you may need to add a little water to cover the cabbage and let it set in there nine days. You taste your kraut along (while it’s in the churn) and when it gets just right, like you want it, you put it in the canning jars. It gets too sour if you leave it in that big churn and don’t can it.”
Sauerkraut (Cara-Lee’s recipe)
1 medium cabbage head, cored and shredded
2 Tbsp sea salt (1 Tbsp salt per pound of cabbage)
1 Tbsp caraway seed or ground turmeric (optional)
1 apple, peeled and shredded (optional)
Combine ingredients in a bowl and let sit 15-30 minutes. Massage the cabbage until it softens and begins to release liquid. Stuff the cabbage into a sterilized quart jar, cover with any remaining liquid, and cap with reserved cabbage leaf piece. If cabbage is not covered by liquid, add a little brine (1 Tbsp per quart of water) until all the cabbage is submerged. Seal with a lid and allow to sit on counter, out of direct sunlight for 3-10 days. Check every day if pressure is building in jar (lid will be tight). Release air–“burp” the jar–as needed. Once sauerkraut has reached preferred taste, store in refrigerator to slow fermentation.
Other flavor ideas:
Add carrots, radish, kale, brussel sprouts, ginger, garlic, cayenne, hot peppers, fish sauce
Sauerkraut has an odiferous flavor. How do you tell if your kraut has gone bad?! Trust your nose
and taste buds and, when in doubt, just compost it and start again! Black, green, yellow, and pink
colors may indicate unfavorable bacteria in your kraut whereas white may indicate harmless
Don’t forget to “burp” your jar daily if using a glass mason jar to ferment your kraut. Carbon
dioxide is a by-product of fermentation and pressure can build up in the jar. To avoid any
explosive situations, simply release the band of the jar when the lid gets tight. Close it back up
and repeat as needed.
If you end up with mushy kraut, you might want to consider consulting the zodiac. In
Appalachia, many folks still believe in following the signs to determine the best days to plant,
put up food, and even undergo certain medical procedures.
The better the quality of your ingredients, the better the outcome of your ferment. Try to use
locally grown, chemical-free produce and high quality non-iodized sea salt whenever possible.
One-stop shop for all things fermentation: Cultures for Health www.culturesforhealth.com
National fermentation expert: Sandor Ellix Katz https://www.wildfermentation.com/
Local fermentation expert: Julia Skinner of Root Kitchens (Atlanta, GA) https://root-
Locally produced sauerkraut: New Moon Kettle https://www.eatrealfoodinc.com/s/order#36
Preparing kraut by the moon signs: Farmer’s Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/bestday/can-
Wild Fermentation/The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Foxfire’s mission is to preserve and develop the public’s appreciation for Southern Appalachian history – its history, people, and traditions – through artifacts, oral history, and programs that interpret, document and celebrate the region, and fosters self-directed, community-based classroom instruction following the Foxfire Core Practices.