Recipe of the Week – Basic Sauerkraut Recipe
Making sauerkraut is really easy, and a great introduction to the joys of fermenting food. This is adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe.
Remove any outer leaves from the cabbage and give it a wash. Cut out the core. Thoroughly wash a large Tupperware tub or bowl, then rinse with boiling water from the kettle. Make sure that your hands, and everything else coming into contact with the cabbage, are very clean.
Shred the cabbage thinly – a food processor makes light work of this. Layer the cabbage and the salt in the tub or bowl. Massage the salt into the cabbage for 5 mins, wait 5 mins, then repeat. You should end up with a much-reduced volume of cabbage sitting in its own brine. Mix in the caraway seeds and the peppercorns.
Transfer the cabbage and its juice to a sterilized mason jar or crock pot. It’s really important that the cabbage is submerged in the brine so it has to be weighed down. I use a jar (also scalded out with boiling water) filled with small stones. Cover the jar or crock pot with a clean tea towel or muslin cloth. Leave in a dark place at a cool room temperature (about 18-20C) for at least 5 days. It will be ready to eat after 5 days, but for maximum flavour leave the cabbage to ferment for anywhere between 2-6 weeks (or until the bubbling subsides).
Check the cabbage every day or so, releasing any gases that have built up as it ferments, and give the cabbage a stir to release the bubbles. If any scum forms, remove it. You should see bubbles appearing within the cabbage, and possibly some foam on the top of the brine. It’s important to keep it at an even, cool room temperature – too cool and the ferment will take longer than you’d like, too warm and the sauerkraut may become mouldy or ferment too quickly, leading to a less than perfect result.
The cabbage will become increasingly sour the longer it’s fermented, so taste it now and again. When you like the flavour, transfer it to smaller sterilised jars and keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Michael Kelly is an author, broadcaster and founder of GIY.
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