Photo by Pixabay/edwina_mc
I learned this method from Sandor Katz, and later wrote this recipe down for my workshop students. You can find Katz’s original instructions in The Art of Fermentation. This method differs from recipes that use a pour-over brine, as this technique calls for massaging the shredded cabbage with salt to create a brine from the liquid already present in the leaves.
You can ferment this sauerkraut in whatever food-safe container you prefer, such as a crock. Just layer whole cabbage leaves over the top of the kraut and weight them down with a plate or bowl, making sure the brine comes up over the top of the cabbage. Cover the vessel with a cloth or a lid to keep bugs out.
Fermentation Type: Lacto
Primary Fermentation: 2 to 3 weeks
Total time: 2 to 3 weeks
Shelf life: 2 to 3 months
Yield: about 2 pints.
- 1 head cabbage
- Sea salt
- Spices, such as caraway, fennel, and juniper berries (optional)
- Produce scraps, such as shredded or grated root vegetables, carrot tops, chopped apple peels, etc.
- Remove the outer two layers of leaves from the cabbage and set aside for later.
- Quarter and core the cabbage, and then shred thinly.
- In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
- Massage or pound the salt into the cabbage until a brine develops. You’ll know it’s done when the cabbage releases liquid when squeezed. Add any spices and durable produce scraps, such as grated carrot, to the bowl before massaging, but wait to add delicate foods that might bruise, such as diced apple or berries, until after.
- Pack the cabbage mixture tightly into two pint jars, working out any air bubbles as you go. Make sure the mixture is completely covered with brine.
- Fold two reserved cabbage leaves in half and place one on top of the cabbage mixture in each jar, making sure they’re submerged in the brine.
- Place lids and seals on the jars. Allow the kraut to ferment out of direct sunlight for 2 to 3 weeks, or longer, if desired. Loosen the lids and check the ferment daily, adding more water if needed to increase the level of the brine. Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months.
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Julia Skinner, Ph.D, is the director of Root, an Atlanta-based food history and fermentation organization. She’s also a food writer, artist, and avid fermenter. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @BookishJulia.