Sauerkraut is a German version of the preserved cabbage grandma used to make back in our hometown in Northeastern China, only we used Chinese cabbage and they were packed down whole in clay urns instead of being chopped up in advance. Seems like it’s a shared recipe all across northern Asia and Europe. In the old days when fresh produce was scarce in the harsh winter, sauerkraut played a great part in keeping a balanced diet when nothing could grow.
I made a big bunch (5kilos) this time as it’s been a big hit amongst friends.
Ingredients (Makes about 1 litre in volume):
- 2 Cabbages (about 2 pounds, the fresher the better of course)
- 1tsp Caraway seeds (I didn’t have any so I just dropped in a few black peppercorns. Spices are really optional, and the Chinese version doesn’t use anything.)
- 1 1/3tbsp Salt
- 1 2litre (or bigger) food safe, non metal container, lid is not needed
- 1litre Water
- 1 1/2tbsp Salt
- 2 Glad Bags
- Brine: Boil water with salt then let cool.
- Cut cabbage in quarters, discard core and bruised outer leaves. Dice thin, transfer into container and sprinkle salt (1 1/3tbsp) on, toss evenly and let sit for 10mins.
- Cabbage should be wilted with a lot of liquid by now, pack down as much as possible with a fist, wooden spoon or potato masher (wrap a food safe plastic bag on the masher if it’s a metal one). There should be plenty of liquid being squeezed out, cover the cabbage by at least 3cm – if not top up with a little brine. The caraway seeds can be added now.
- Put one Glad Bag inside another (in case the first one leaks) and fill the inside one with brine (in case there is a leak the salt level of liquid won’t be disturbed), place on top of cabbage to weigh it down, careful not to leave any air bubbles or floating cabbage shreds, all cabbage should be submerged. Seal bags and place in a cool dark place. (15-20ºC for 4weeks or fridge for 6-8weeks, which makes the wine fridge the perfect place)
- DO NOT let the cabbage/brine come in contact with anything metal, including the metal rim of a jar – the salt will react with metal.
- During the first week or so of fermentation, there will be lots of bubbles rising in the jar, after that bubbles will keep forming but slowly, and the signature smell of sauerkraut will come out. When bubbles stop forming, the fermentation is finished and the sauerkraut is ready. It’s better to use a bigger container as the liquid level will rise during fermentation, if liquid overflows place a plate underneath to collect it.
- Sauerkraut can keep in fridge for a long time, it will just be more pungent and lose the crunchiness slowly, try to keep as little air in the container as possible. It can also be frozen and will keep for a even longer time, it can even be jarred but it will lose the vitamins, enzymes or whatever health beneficial creatures that are in there.
- The traditional way of weighing down the cabbage is a piece of wooden board that fits the rim just right and then a heavy rock on top. Whatever works that will keep the cabbage submerged and allow air bubbles to escape.
- 2顆 捲心菜（2磅左右，新鮮的比較好）
- 1茶匙 葛縷籽 (手邊沒有所以沒用，丟了幾顆黑胡椒進去。香料是可有可無的，東北酸菜就什麼香料也沒有。）
- 1 1/3湯匙 鹽
- 1個 2升（或更大的）非金屬食物容器，無需蓋子
- 1升 水
- 1 1/2湯匙 鹽
- 2個 合適尺寸的食物密實袋
- 捲心菜每顆切四份，去掉芯和爛葉子，切細絲，放入食物容器仲撒鹽（1 1/3湯匙）混均勻，等待10分鐘。
- 捲心菜絲現在應該已出水變軟，用拳頭，木鍋鏟或馬鈴薯搗碎器（如是金屬的需要套膠袋）將其壓緊，捲心菜液體應蓋過菜絲至少3釐米 － 如液體不夠可加入一點鹽水。加香料。
- 將兩個食物密實袋套在一起（一個漏了還有第二個），裡面的袋子裝入鹽水（萬一兩個袋子都漏了酸菜的鹽度不會改變，若鹽度不夠菜會腐爛）壓在捲心菜上，小心不要留下汽泡或讓菜絲浮起來 － 菜絲應被壓在液面以下。封好袋子，將容器靜置於陰涼地方（15-20ºC放4個星期，或冰箱裡6-8個星期。紅酒櫃是個很好的地方。）
- 捲心菜鹽水不能碰到金屬（包括封瓶子口的鐵絲） － 會起反應的
- 傳統的做法是用一塊尺寸合適的木板壓住酸菜，上面再加一塊或幾塊石頭 － 只要能壓住酸菜並讓發酵氣體走出就好。