My friend Bekah Wilce is quite a fan of fermenting. If it grows, she can bring it to its festering fruition. This is her recommendation for a basic, fermented kraut.
Note: Because the high temperatures of the boiling-water method would destroy the beneficial probiotic bacteria that result from the fermentation process, canning is not recommended.
- 5 pounds white cabbage (1 large head or 2 small)
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries or caraway seed
Makes about 2 quarts.
- Peel away the outer leaves of the cabbage, and then quarter and core. Shred it finely using a knife, mandolin, or kraut board* Toss with the salt and juniper berries in a large nonreactive bowl until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a 1-gallon glass jar or ceramic crock and press down. Top the cabbage with a clean plate, just smaller than the opening of the jar. Fill a clean quart jar with water and use it to weight down the plate. Cover with a clean dish towel and remove to a cool place.
- Check the kraut after 24 hours. With the help of the plate, all the cabbage should be submerged. If it’s not, pour enough brine (1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water) over the cabbage to cover it.
- Check the cabbage daily. Tiny bubbles should be rising through the liquid (easy to see in a glass container). If a scum has formed, don’t worry; just ladle it from the top of the liquid and wash and replace the plate and jar. Add more brine, if necessary, to keep the cabbage submerged. The kraut will be fully fermented in 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature or 3 to 4 weeks in a cool basement. You’ll know it’s done when it stops bubbling and is a pale golden color.
*A kraut board is a traditional tool for shredding cabbage, similar to a wooden mandolin.
Refrigerate: Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 month.
Excerpted from Put 'em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling © by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Illustrations © Elara Tanquy. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.