Sauerkraut, although not the official national dish of Germany, is strongly associated with German cuisine in the United States. Creating your own sauerkraut is a simple process that relies on natural fermentation using the cabbage’s bacteria. By adding salt to draw out the water and eliminate spoilage bacteria, fermentation begins.
- This straightforward recipe allows you to adjust the yield according to your preference, as each batch ferments in a 1-quart Mason jar. Achieving the desired tanginess of sauerkraut can take anywhere from one to three weeks. In colder winter temperatures, fermentation might take longer, while warmer summer days can speed up the process. There are numerous ways to savor homemade sauerkraut—straight from the jar, as a garnish or salad ingredient, or cooked alongside apples and sausage.
Please note that the flavor of this super easy sauerkraut is worth the wait. Exercise patience as you let the science of fermentation do its magic!
German Sauerkraut Recipe
To make this delicious German sauerkraut, you will need the following ingredients:
– 8 to 10 cups of loosely packed shredded cabbage (approximately 2 pounds)
– 10 juniper berries
– 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
– 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
– 3 teaspoons pickling salt or any non-iodized salt (divided)
– 1 cup filtered water
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Here is the nutritional information for each serving of sauerkraut:
– 19 Calories
– 0g Fat
– 4g Carbs
– 1g Protein
Follow these simple steps to create your homemade German sauerkraut:
- Combine the shredded cabbage, juniper berries, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, and 2 teaspoons of pickling salt in a clean, non-metallic bowl.
- Stir the mixture thoroughly to release the natural juices from the cabbage. Let it rest for 10 minutes. If desired, you can let it rest for up to 1 to 2 hours to enhance the flavors.
- Sterilize a 1-quart wide-mouthed Mason jar and its lid by boiling them in water for several minutes. After boiling, drain them on a clean dishcloth.
- Pack the cabbage mixture tightly into the sterilized jar, using a wooden spoon to press it down and remove any air pockets.
- Mix the filtered water with the remaining teaspoon of pickling salt and pour the mixture over the cabbage in the jar. Fill the jar until the cabbage reaches the rim. Loosely cap the jar with a sterilized canning lid.
- Place the jar on a tray or plate to catch any potential overflowing juices as the fermentation process begins. Over time, the mixture will start to bubble, indicating that fermentation is occurring.
- After the bubbling ceases, check the water level in the jar. If it has fallen below the rim, prepare some slightly warmed saltwater (maintaining a ratio of 1 teaspoon pickling salt per 1 cup of water) to top off the jar.
- To facilitate proper fermentation, keep the jar at a temperature between 65°F and 72°F (18°C to 22°C) on the tray for 1 to 3 weeks. The sauerkraut will gradually develop a pleasantly sour flavor. To determine the desired tartness, taste the sauerkraut after the first week and every few days thereafter until it satisfies your preference.
- Once the sauerkraut reaches your desired level of tanginess, remove any harmless white spots or film that may have formed on the surface. Seal the jar tightly with a sterilized canning lid and ring, wipe the exterior clean, and store it in the refrigerator. The sauerkraut is now ready to be enjoyed as is or used as a flavorful topping for hot dogs, sandwiches, or cooked dishes like pork chops.
Here are a few tips to enhance your sauerkraut-making experience:
– Pickling salt is commonly available in most grocery stores, usually in the salt and spice section. It is recommended to store pickling salt in an airtight container away from moisture to prevent clumping.
– Using pickling salt, which is a fine-grained salt without additives, will help keep the sauerkraut liquid clear, ensuring an appetizing appearance.
– If you decide to increase the quantity of the recipe, remember to maintain the ratio of 1 teaspoon of pickling salt per 1 cup of water to ensure proper fermentation.
– Unlike canned sauerkraut, this fresh homemade version does not require rinsing in a colander to reduce the briny flavor. It can be used directly in various dishes.
– Feel free to experiment with additional flavors to personalize your sauerkraut. Consider adding ingredients like garlic, dill, lemon peel, fennel, or carrot for unique flavor profiles.
The origins of sauerkraut can be traced back to Asia, where it was known as “sour cabbage.” The method of fermenting cabbage in rice wine led to its creation. Sauerkraut gained popularity more than 2,000 years ago when it became the go-to dinner for laborers constructing the Great Wall of China. Around 1,000 years ago, Genghis Khan introduced sauerkraut to Eastern Europe, where salt was used instead of wine as the fermentation catalyst. The popularity of sauerkraut grew, spreading to Germany, France, and beyond.
The high vitamin C content of sauerkraut made it a vital food during long sea voyages, as it didn’t require refrigeration and helped prevent scurvy. On land, sauerkraut became a means of preserving cabbage for consumption throughout the winter and sustaining communities during times of drought and famine when crops were scarce. Its versatility and nutritional value made sauerkraut an enduring part of various cultures and cuisines.
By following this authentic German sauerkraut recipe, you can continue the tradition of enjoying this flavorful and tangy cabbage dish. Whether you savor it on its own, use it as a condiment, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes, homemade sauerkraut adds a delightful and healthy twist to your meals. Embrace the time-honored art of fermentation and indulge in the unique taste of homemade sauerkraut!
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