Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez
Active Time
15 Mins
Total Time
168 Hours
Yield
Serves 16 (serving size: 1/4 cup)

Sauerkraut is an easy entry point to the glories of fermentation. It’s easy to make, nearly foolproof, and you can let it ferment to suit your taste (the longer it goes, the softer and more sour it gets). You’ll be left with a jar of probiotic-rich kraut. Yes, that means there is bacteria involved, but it’s the good-for-your-gut kind. And the fermentation process produces lactic acid (that’s where the sour flavor comes from) that prevents bad bacteria from forming. A big bonus of making kraut yourself: Many store-bought options are pasteurized, killing the beneficial bacteria. Before starting, be sure you have a 1-quart jar and a muddler or wooden spoon. Gloves are good, too, to prevent the cabbage from staining your hands.

How to Make It

Step 1

Place cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Firmly and vigorously massage cabbage until it wilts, some liquid has pooled in bottom of bowl, and liquid squeezes out when you squeeze a handful, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in caraway seeds. Firmly pack cabbage in a 1-quart jar. Start by filling jar about half full; tamp cabbage down with a muddler or wooden spoon to pack it down firmly. Add more cabbage, and repeat the process until it's all in the jar (don't worry--it will fit). Pour liquid from bowl on top of cabbage.

Step 2

Screw on lid, and set jar on a plate or in a bowl. (The kraut will likely bubble over and leak a bit as it ferments.) Let stand at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, until kraut reaches desired flavor and texture, about 1 to 2 weeks. Check every day, starting after 4 days. When you open the jar, the liquid will likely be bubbling--that means it's working as it should. Refrigerate to stop fermentation once the kraut is to your liking. Store chilled in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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