Winter cabbages have been traditionally used here in the Netherlands to make sauerkraut or “zuurkool” as we dutchies call it. This dish is made by finely cutting cabbage and mixing it with salt and left to ferment. This way of pickling is a way to preserve food that has been used for centuries in especially Northern and Mid European countries. Salting the vegetables will make sure the water is being pulled out of the cabbage. It sets a good environment to let the fermenting begin. Fermentation through various lactic acid bacteria gives the cabbage it’s sour taste and it’s health benefits. They contain healthy probiotics. The right amount of salt is the key to make a good sauerkraut, however this crunchy pickle is super easy to make, perfect with your grain bowls, on a sandwich or served with your favorite plant based burger and not least of all it is super healthy!
- Red or white cabbage, as fresh as possible.
- Sea salt, 2 gram for every 100 grams of cabbage
- Additional spices such as cumin, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, coriander etc. (I used orange rind of 1,5 organic oranges and a thumb piece of grated fresh ginger).
Start by cleaning your glass or mason jars, you want to make sure everything you work with is as clean as possible. If you own a dishwasher, wash your glass jar in it, so it is sterilised. Make sure the opening of your container is wide.
Take of some of the outer leaves of the cabbage and before cutting, weigh it so you know how much salt you will need. Cut the cabbage as thin as you can, you can use a mandoline or food processor too.
Now transfer your sliced cabbage to a large clean bowl and add 2 grams of salt for every 100 grams of cabbage. So if you have a cabbage that weighs 1 kilo you will need 20 grams of salt.
Massage your cabbage in a large bowl, it will slowly release moisture and become softer and more limp. Massage about 8-10 minutes to really have a good result. At the final stage you can add in your flavourings.
Transfer your massaged cabbage and your flavourings to your glass jar and stuff the cabbage in (you can use a funnel to keep things tidy). Make sure the cabbage is tightly packed, you can press it down with your clean fist. Pour in the juices that were released when massaging your cabbage. The cabbage should be totally covered by the juices now. If not, add a bit of non chlorinated water so the cabbage is covered.
If you have saved the outer leaves you can place them at the top in the jar over the surface of the sliced cabbage. Leave some extra room for a smaller glass jar filled with water or marbles, a closed plastic bag filled with water or a special stone that you can buy in cooking stores especially for making sauerkraut. Put it in the jar on top to keep the sauerkraut submerged. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin or cheese cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
Keep it at room temperature for about 3-10 days. The first 24 hours check twice a day if the sauerkraut is not floating to the top and that it stays submerged. If not you may need to press it down a few times extra yourself. I always put a plate underneath my jar, because sometimes fermentation gets so wild that the liquid bubbles up. It is ready after three days, but if you like it to be more sour, leave some more days to ferment. It’s normal if you see small air bubbles, foam or even a light white layer on top of the surface. If you want you can remove this before you put your sauerkraut in the fridge. You can put the jar in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. The sauerkraut will last several months in the fridge.