Making sauerkraut at home is a simple process that involves mixing shredded cabbage and salt, then allowing the mixture to ferment. Here is a basic recipe for homemade sauerkraut:
1 large head of cabbage (about 2-3 pounds)
2-3 tablespoons of sea salt or kosher salt
Remove the cabbage's outer leaves and discard any damaged ones. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the tough core.
Shred the cabbage finely, either by hand or with a food processor.
In a large bowl, mix the shredded cabbage and salt. Knead the mixture with your hands for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage has released a significant amount of liquid.
Pack the cabbage mixture tightly into a clean, wide-mouth mason jar or crock, leaving about 2 inches of headspace at the top. Press down on the cabbage mixture to release any trapped air bubbles and ensure it's submerged in the liquid.
Cover the jar or crock with a lid or a clean towel, and place it in a cool, dark place for about 2-4 weeks.
Check the sauerkraut every few days and remove any scum or mold that may form on the surface. You can also taste the sauerkraut to check the fermentation process.
Once it reaches the desired flavor and texture, remove the sauerkraut from the jar and transfer it to a clean container. Store it in the refrigerator and enjoy it as a condiment with sandwiches, on pizza, or as a side dish.
Note: Fermentation time depends on the temperature, humidity and the amount of salt used. It can take anywhere between 2 days to 4 weeks. As you gain more experience, you can start experimenting with different varieties of cabbage, herbs, and spices to create unique flavors.
During the fermentation process, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) convert the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which acts as a natural preservative and gives sauerkraut its tangy flavor. The longer the sauerkraut ferments, the more LAB will grow and the higher the probiotic content.
To achieve the best probiotic content, it's essential to keep the sauerkraut submerged in the brine, away from oxygen, which can inhibit the growth of LAB and promote the development of unwanted bacteria. You should also check your sauerkraut every few days, remove any scum or mold that may form on the surface, and make sure the cabbage is submerged in the liquid.
Once you reach the desired flavor and texture, you can remove the sauerkraut from the jar and transfer it to a clean container. It's best to store it in the refrigerator to slow fermentation and preserve the probiotic content.
Remember that fermentation time can vary depending on many factors, so the best way to know when your sauerkraut is ready is to taste it regularly.