Sauerkraut is incredibly easy to make and a very affordable way to get some valuable probiotics in your diet. Red cabbage sauerkraut is my favourite and I love combining it with red onion. This recipe is more of a rough guide to making kraut. Every head of cabbage will have a different weight so I encourage you to use the whole amount rather than sticking to the recipe exactly. In essence, you only need cabbage and salt to make kraut. Juniper, caraway and onion are just additional ingredients that add flavour. The general rule of thumb is to add salt at 2% of the cabbage weight. I tend not to weigh the salt or cabbage. I tend to add salt and taste until it’s very very salty, like swallowing a mouthful of seawater, salty. If you’re new to making kraut and feel a little apprehensive then I weigh your cabbage once you’ve shredded it and multiple the weight by 0.02 to get the weight of the salt.
1 head purple cabbage
1 red onion
1 tsp. juniper berries
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
2 – 3 Tbsp. sea salt or 2% of the weight of your cabbage
a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and put to one side. You’ll need them later. Cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters. Remove the white cores and discard.
Shred the cabbage finely, using a mandolin, if you have one, or a sharp knife. As you shred the cabbage place into a large bowl and sprinkle with some of the salt (this helps to initiate the breakdown of the cabbage and allows liquid from the cabbage cells to be released), repeat this process until you have cut all the cabbage.
Finely chop the onion and add to the cabbage with the caraway seeds, juniper berries, pepper and any remaining salt. Mix well and firmly massage the cabbage to soft and continue to draw out the liquid. Once you start to see about 1/4 cup of liquid in the bottom of the bowl it’s ready to pack into jars. Taste the cabbage one more time and adjust for salt.
Place a handful of the mixture into a clean jar and press firmly into the base. Continue to press the cabbage down into the jar until enough liquid has been released to cover this first handful of cabbage, add a second handful and repeat until all your jars are full.
Fold up the outer leaves of the cabbage you set aside and stuff into the top of the jar to completely cover and firmly pack the mixture down. The water level should come to the top of the jar.
Place the lid on top of the jar but do not seal, the mixture needs air. Store out of direct sunlight in a cool dry place.
Knowing when your kraut is ready to eat is really a matter of taste. The fermentation process is not an exact science and will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. In summer months I suggest 3-4 days and in winter 7-10 days. After the third day, smell and taste the kraut to determine the progress of your ferment. Store in the fridge once the kraut is to your liking.