For my fellow lazy fermenters.
I don't remember what first triggered me to make my own sauerkraut. I didn't even eat the stuff at the time, and it was years before I was level 19 concerned with gut health. But whatever the source of the fermentation inspiration, I was going to make this thing happen.
I turned to my trusty friend YouTube for some culinary assistance. She found me an eastern European grandmother, aggressively mushing and mashing her meek strands of cabbage with liberal shakes of salt. Through her thick accent, I picked up on the basic idea: chop, salt, mash, pack. And wait. And wait. And wait.
Fast forward through the years. Fermented veggies have become such a staple in my diet that rarely is a dish not topped, tossed, or cooked with them. The acidic tang hits a special note with my taste buds that makes ketchup, and other plebeian condiments, pale in comparison. It's normal for the corner of my kitchen to be overcrowded with mason jars of various sizes, quietly burbling away as the bacteria eat, drink, and be merry.
Beets, carrots, onions, and asparagus are a few of the usual suspects in my fermentation station, but I lean the heaviest on cabbage as my go-to kraut of choice. Tradition aside, it's the right texture and flavor for a pile of breakfast eggs or an evening side salad.
Admittedly, though, I can be a bit lazy when it comes certain tasks and hand-mushing salted cabbages ranks high among them. It's a monotonous job that never seems to end and, well, my hands get tired. If you've ever krauted, you know exactly what I'm talking about. So I've modified my way of making sauerkraut and, while the result probably can't accurately be called sauerkraut at all anymore, it sure it easy! And it's also a crisper, crunchier kraut that I enjoy much more than the softer, mushier varieties found commercially.
Below is my all-time big-league flavor combination. Be warned: this particular kraut can become so potent that the smell from a cracked lid will nearly burn your nose hairs, despite its friendly and versatile flavor. It's miraculous like that.
I encourage you to add, subtract, or perhaps even -why not?- multiply the flavor ingredients. Other spices that make a tasty addition include seeds such as dill, cumin, mustard, or caraway. But hey, you do you.
- 1 medium head of cabbage, green or purple
- 1-2 tbsp. grated ginger
- 1-2 tbsp. grated turmeric
- 1-2 tbsp. salt (higher for a longer ferment; lower end for a quickie)
- 2 tbsp. whey (optional)
Slice cabbage thinly (a mandolin comes in handy here) and toss with spices and salt. Cover bowl with a plate or silicone lid and forget about cabbage for 12-24 hours. When you notice it again, use tongs to transfer cabbage into a tall glass jar (like this), stopping periodically to mash it down with a mortar or cocktail muddler (like this). Pour any remaining juices from the bowl into the jar.
Find a smaller glass bottle that fits within the jar opening, fill with water, and set it on top of the cabbage, mushing any stray pieces down into the medley. Cabbage should be nearly submerged in the liquid, but don't get your panties in a wad if that's not the case. Let rest for another day, then press cabbage again. At this point, the weight of the water-filled bottle. should be enough to keep the cabbage submerged.
Taste after 3 days and transfer to fridge when lightly soured and not too salty, usually 5-7 days. Eat with literally everything.