- 1 medium head Green Cabbage (approx 1.4kg)
- 1 tablespoon Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon Caraway Seeds (optional, for flavour)
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Large Mixing Bowl (I sometimes use large soup pans to give more room to manoeuvre
- 3 liters Mason Jar
- Smaller Jam Jar that fits inside Large Mason Jar
- Clean Stones, Marbles, Rice etc for weighing down the Jam Jar
- Clean everything: When fermenting, it's best to give the beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jam jar are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You'll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.
- Slice the cabbage finely: Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons. Keep the outer cabbage leaves – I use them to help keep the cabbage under the brine when it is fermenting.
- Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first it might not seem like enough salt, but gradually the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you'd like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.
- Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. Every so often, push down the cabbage in the jar firmly with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.
- Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, place the whole cabbage leaves on top and slip the smaller jam jar into the mouth of the jar on top of the whole cabbage leaves and weigh it down with clean stones, marbles or rice. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
- Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next few hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jam jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
- Add extra liquid (water), If needed – other recipes recommend you do this but I have never had to add extra water.
- Seal the jar Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it's fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid. I usually keep mine in the laundry. If it tastes salty, it’s not ready. If it takes pickled then it’s done.
- Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 6 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There's no hard-and-fast rule for when the sauerkraut is "done" — go by how it tastes.
- While it's fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don't eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.