Old-Fashioned Sauerkraut Gets a Helping Hand From A Modern Appliance

You can make good old-fashioned sauerkraut using organic cabbage and sea salt. This old-fashioned dish gets its unique flavor from a fermentation process. The way my grandmother taught me to make it was time consuming and required a bit of muscle. We would shred the cabbage by hand with a kitchen knife then pound it with a rubber mallet for 15 to 20 minutes. This released the natural cabbage juice that keeps the cabbage moist and prevents it from rotting during the fermentation process. I still use my grandmother’s simple and basic sauerkraut recipe, but I get help from a very modern kitchen appliance: the food processor. The food processor not only shreds the cabbage, but swapping out the shredding disc for a multi-purpose blade allows me to “bruise” the cabbage without a mallet. This way is a lot easier.

Ingredients

1 medium to large organic cabbage (green or red is fine)

2 tablespoons of good quality sea salt

1 tablespoon of whole caraway seeds

Special equipment

A good food processor with both a shredding disc and multi-purpose blade

A quart sized wide mouth canning jar

Directions

Cut the organic cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Put the shredding disc onto your favorite food processor. Shred the cabbage. Put the shredded cabbage into a large mixing bowl along with the sea salt and caraway seeds. Mix everything together very well. Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the sea salt to begin to draw out the cabbage juice. Return the cabbage to the food processor work bowl, but this time have it fitted with a multi-purpose blade. You may have to do this in batches if your food processor isn’t large enough. Press the pulse button 8 times, only holding it down for 2 seconds each time. This will break down the cabbage enough to get out the juices you need, but still leave it in large enough pieces for the final sauerkraut.

Place the sauerkraut into the canning jar. Press down the cabbage until the juices rise to one inch above the cabbage. A rubber spatula works well for this task. Put the canning jar lid tightly on and place the sauerkraut in a cool (but not cold) dark place for 5 days. A dark cupboard is a good spot. Move the sauerkraut to the refrigerator at the end of the 5 days. Refrigerate for at least one week before serving. The flavor will continue to improve with age, and hit its peak at 4 to 6 months.

Tips and Suggestions

I have had friends request this recipe but tell me it did not work for them. All they ended up with was soggy, salty cabbage. It took me a while to figure why it wouldn’t work for other people. I realized I usually only use organic foods, while others buy cheaper, conventionally grown vegetables. Those vegetables are heavily sprayed with pesticides, which indiscriminately kill all living microbes, good and bad. Fermentation works by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria (probiotics) naturally present on foods, cabbage in this case. These cabbage probiotics are able to withstand high levels of salt, unlike most microbes. So the salt gets rid of competing bacteria, allowing the good cabbage bacteria to flourish. That is how sauerkraut is made. This process does not work with heavily sprayed cabbage, so it is very important to only use organic cabbage when making this recipe.

I love caraway seeds so I almost always use them in my sauerkraut, but they aren’t just there for flavor. They are antimicrobial and offer additional protection from bad bacteria, yet the good cabbage bacteria are not affected by them. You can skip the caraway seeds if you’d like to, but add an additional teaspoon of sea salt for extra microbial protection.

A poorly powered food processor with a dull blade will turn the cabbage to unappetizing mush. Make sure you are using a decent food processor when shredding cabbage.

1 comment to Old-Fashioned Sauerkraut Gets a Helping Hand From A Modern Appliance

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