Guten Tag! Oktoberfest is in the air. Beer is flowing, drindls are twirling, and sauerkraut is done fermenting. Fermented beer, fermented cabbage. What could be better?
To honor this special season, Masontops is offering 14% off of our fermentation products so you can make your own sauerkraut before the Oktoberfest season (or the autumn harvest season) ends. Use PROST14 to get 14% off Masontops Fermentation tools now until October 3rd, 2016, which so happens to be the last day of the Munich Oktoberfest.
Now, back to sauerkraut. We also want to share with you our favorite Traditional German Sauerkraut Recipe. It has been tried and tested as simply the best by readers of our Free Fermentation Guide Book.
Traditional German Sauerkraut Recipe
Begin by rinsing your cabbage, then remove and discard any blemished leaves, especially ones with black spots. Next, peel off one whole leaf and set it aside. Cut the cabbage from top to bottom, down through the core into two halves, and then cut each half again into quarters.
Cut out and discard the cores from the cabbage quarters. Next, place one wedge of cabbage on your cutting board cut-side down, and slice across the grain as thinly as you can to shred it. As each quarter is shredded, transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle with some of the salt. Keep adding cabbage and salt in layers until you’re out of both. (If you’re using spices, sprinkle them on now.)
With your hands or a large spoon, toss the cabbage well to incorporate the salt evenly. Then squeeze and massage the cabbage a bit to work it in. Next, use the Pickle Packer to pound the cabbage and begin breaking down the cell walls to release the juice. Pound it down flat, then toss it all together and pound it again.
Continue pounding and mixing until the cabbage is wilted and juicy. This can take several minutes. (If you get tired of pounding you can place a plate on top of the cabbage and something heavy on top of the plate. Then cover it all with a towel and let it sit for a couple hours to macerate.)
When the cabbage is thoroughly pounded and juicy, it’s time to pack the jar. Add a couple handfuls of the cabbage to a 1 quart mason jar and use the Pickle Packer to pack it down firmly.
As you push the cabbage down, the brine will rise up in the jar. Keep adding and packing down the cabbage until the jar is filled to the shoulder. Do not overfill the jar! Two pounds of cabbage fits pretty perfectly into a 1 quart mason jar. If you find that the jar is full but there are still a few spoonfuls of cabbage left, toss them with a bit of olive oil for a tasty fresh salad.
Now take the clean cabbage leaf you reserved and lay it flat on your cutting board. Set the jar on the leaf, near the top where it is more pliable. Use a sharp knife to cut a circle out of the leaf, exactly the diameter of the jar. Place this leaf directly on the surface of the sauerkraut to help prevent little bits from floating up. Place a Pickle Pebble on top of the leaf to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Wipe the rim of the jar, then add a Pickle Pipe and secure the ring. Write the date on the side of the jar with a felt-tip pen and set it in a dark place to ferment.
At first your kraut may be a little dry if the cabbage was not very fresh. Wait a day or two to see if it releases enough juice to submerge all the cabbage and the Pickle Pebble. If it does not, make a brine of 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1/2 cup water. Add enough of this so that the Pickle Pebble is completely submerged.
Fermentation should begin within a day or two. As it proceeds you will notice these changes:
All of these things are normal signs of healthy fermentation! Sauerkraut takes a long time to ferment and the flavor improves with age. If your house is warm you may check it as early as 2-3 weeks; for cooler temps plan to allow 1 month or more.
When you think your kraut is ready, open the jar to have a taste. The cabbage should have changed from white to nearly translucent. The salty flavor should have diminished; it has been replaced with the bright, tangy flavor of the lactic acid.
Now, wasn't that easy? If you want to learn more about fermenting and get some other great recipes, including Kurry Kraut (yum!), you can download the rest of the Free Fermentation Guide here.