This kraut is super simple to make, even for someone just beginning to experiment with fermenting. It is my new favorite ferment! As soon as I put a batch in the fridge I start a new jar to assure I will never run out. I am sure it would be great on sandwiches or salads but I simply eat it with a fork, often right out of the jar. It is sour and tart and the ginger adds a bit of spice.
There are several options when it comes to fermenting vessels. I use half gallon mason jars but you can use any glass jar, glass container or crock. Choose fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible.
For this recipe you will need –
- 2 heads of green cabbage.
- 2 medium sized lemons
- 1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated (I really love ginger so I always add the greater amount)
- 3-4 TBSP. sea salt
Begin by chopping the cabbage and putting it in a large bowl (or two large bowls as I have done). Sprinkle with the sea salt as you go. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cabbage. It also creates the brine that your kraut will ferment in without rotting and the salt will also keep the cabbage nice and crunchy. Use your hands or a kraut pounder to massage and squeeze the salted cabbage then let it sit undisturbed for an hour or so.
The cabbage will have decreased in volume and should feel wet to the touch. The fresher the cabbage the more water it will contain.
Next add the grated ginger and the juice and zest from two lemons and mix well. Then pack it into your fermenting vessel pushing down on the kraut to make sure it is packed in tight.
I use these weights from TreeBonePottery on etsy to hold everything under the brine. You can also use a smaller jar filled with water, a small plate or a clean, glass weight. Anything that is not covered with brine will mold and rot. I love these weights because they fit perfectly in the jar – I have them in half gallon and quart sizes.
Once your kraut is packed into the jar place your weight on top then push down to submerge everything in the brine. If there isn’t quite enough brine to cover the kraut let it sit for 24 hours and push down on the weight every so often when you think of it. Usually cabbage will create plenty of it’s own liquid, but if not don’t panic, you can make additional brine by adding a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water.
Cover your jar with a clean cloth or paper towel and set it aside to work it’s magic. It will generally start to taste sour after a few days. I let mine ferment for 3 weeks. Taste it every few days and when it tastes great to you put in the fridge and enjoy! It will keep in the fridge for weeks and weeks and the flavor will continue to develop too.
Troubleshooting – your ferment may develop a thin, white layer on the top of the liquid. This is know as kahm yeast, or the “bloom” to some fermenters. It is harmless but it will affect the taste of your kraut if it hangs out to long. Check your kraut often and if you get kahm yeast just gently scrape it off. I have started using air lock lids on my ferments and no longer get yeast. I will show you how to make your own air locks later this week.
If you end up with mushy cabbage try adding more salt. The salt will keep the cabbage crunchy by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that make it soft. So don’t skimp on the salt!
Mold! It happens. Here is where you will likely get conflicting advice depending on who you talk to or what you read. Fuzzy mold is quite different than the yeast I described above. The yeast will cover the entire surface – mold will be patchy, just like when something spoils in the fridge. Some folks recommend scraping the mold off and keeping the ferment. If I find mold I dispose of the ferment and start over. As long as you are working with clean hands and clean utensils mold is rare.
More questions about something I didn’t cover? Leave a comment and I will do my best to help you out!