How to Make Sauerkraut (Video)
By Jennifer Kongs
Learn how to make sauerkraut for an easy, nutritious way to preserve cabbage. You can use the same process to ferment numerous other vegetables, too.
Learn how to make homemade sauerkraut to extend the edible life of cabbage with minimal tools and effort — no heat or refrigeration required! Pre-refrigeration and before canning was invented, fermentation was one of few safe preservation methods. Acidification, typically by lactic acid (as in homemade sauerkraut), is the primary means of preservation. Fermented foods provide healthy communities of microflora and bacteria to your digestive system in addition to making food last longer and taste delicious.
To nail down fermentation basics, a simple lactic acid vegetable ferment is an easy place to start. In this video, we provide you a basic sauerkraut recipe, a traditional and delicious fermented cabbage. Homemade sauerkraut requires few tools: a jar or crock; a knife, mandolin or kraut cutter; cabbage; and salt. Some sauerkraut recipes also call for additional spices, such as caraway seed. The total process will take less than 30 minutes, unless you’re doing several heads of cabbage at a time.
After you’ve learned how to make sauerkraut, you can add numerous variations on the same fermentation theme. You can ferment a variety of vegetables — and even fruits — using a similar basic process. One common fermented food includes the Korean staple kimchi, made following a brine-ferment process with cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and hot peppers. Then, you can tackle more complicated ferments, such as yogurt, sourdough bread, tempeh and homebrewed beer.
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Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or Google+.