Growing up in an Eastern European country, fermented cabbage was one of the most popular fermented foods we would eat throughout the winter months and early spring. My parents often fermented our own kraut with beets, carrots, bay leaf and fennel seeds. It was delicious. But it’s only in the recent years I found out about it’s great healing properties and now I regularly make my own fermented kraut.
I think the biggest question when fermenting kraut is how much salt to use.
If using too much salt, it will make it hard for lactobacillus to grow and kraut will not ferment, it will be too salty and not pleasant to eat. If there is not enough salt, then it will be soft and mushy inviting growth of bad bacteria and slime.
After doing much research and making a few different batches of fermented cabbage, using a 2% salt ratio to cabbage has achieved the best results. For example, for 100g cabbage, you will need 2g salt. Pink Himalayan rock salt is said to be best to use. I simply used coarse sea salt.
1 kg cabbage thinly sliced
20-22g coarse sea salt ( not iodized )
Clean 1-litre jar
In a large bowl sprinkle salt on the thinly sliced cabbage. Mix and knead till juices start to emerge. There is no special way to knead the cabbage, I knead it by scrunching it up with my hands for about 5 minutes.
Pack into a jar, pour remaining juice over the top. Weigh down with weights or use a cabbage stem or leaves ( discard them once cabbage hast fermented ). Place the lid on but only finger tight. Put the jar in a tray or a bowl to catch spilling juices once cabbage will start to ferment.
Place in a cool dark place and let to ferment. Taste every day or every second day. Refrigerate once fermented to your liking. I usually ferment mine for 5-7 days and then refrigerate it. Refrigeration slows down the fermenting presses that mean your kraut will still continue to ferment and develop a stronger taste as it matures. Keeps well refrigerated for good few month.
Here is a link to a recipe for delicious, hearty Russian salad with sauerkraut Russian Vinaigrette Salad
Make it with fennel seeds or ginger and chilli.
Kimchi style fermented napa cabbage with chilli, garlic, ginger and fish sauce.