Fun with Fermentation: How to Make Real Sauerkraut

January 12, 2012

One of the presents I received for Christmas was an honest to goodness, totally real, definitely authentic, straight from Germany (well, it was from Connecticut, but originally Germany), a Harsch Stoneware Fermentation Pot.

Ooooh yes. Either I’m a super foodie, or I’m a complete dork, but I was super excited for this present. Odd as it may be, this is an awesome piece of culinary kitchen-wear.

Fermentation is one of the oldest known preservation methods around. It’s one thing you should eat for healthy digestion and living a long, healthy life. As lactic acid ferments your vegetables, vitamin and mineral content skyrockets (like vitamin C!). The lactic acid bacteria causing your veggies to ferment (preserve) is what helps the important build-up and maintenance of intestinal flora. The plant substances prevent cancer, protect the body against infection and inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi. It’s also an anti-ulcer aid, as it protects the digestive system against stomach and intestinal ulcers. Acetylcholine is also found in fermented foods, which is a powerful, and natural, anti-depressant.

Awesome.

Eating fermented foods is a beneficial treat for your body.

The best part of all of this, it’s EASY. Making fermented veggies, like fermented cabbage, is simple, quick, and SO good. I’ve been making my own sauerkraut, pickled veggies, and kimchi for a while now, and I can tell you, it’s one thing that is worth making.

Oh, I also help my boyfriend brew beer… that counts as fermented foods, right?

If you don’t have a fermentation pot, don’t worry. You can still have your own fun with fermentation! Up until Christmas, I was using a large glass jar and a thin cloth napkin. But, now I can be legit…

Fun with Fermentation 101:

One of the most important things in fermenting is cleanliness. Your vessels, utensils, and hands, have to be as sterile as possible. Along with clean pots, only absolutely fresh vegetables should be used.

Fermenting in ceramic pots (like my Stoneware Pot) is the best vessel to use. It’s easy to clean and does not absorb liquids- reducing the chances of mold. The Stoneware comes with weighted stones, keeping the liquid above the vegetables, which is exactly what you want for proper lactic fermentation to take place.

I have a 10 liter pot (yep, it’s huge) so I’ll be “making” my veggies in this quantity. What you’ll need:

  • cabbage
  • salt
  • ceramic fermenting pot or glass jar

For a 10 liter pot, the ratios used are 5-8 kg of cabbage to 5-8 grams of salt for every 1 kg of cabbage. Um… yeah…

After some calculations, I figured out I needed to use approximately 17 pounds of cabbage and 47 grams of salt. That would be 7 heads of cabbage. And that my friends, is a lot of cabbage.

Anyhow, this is what was up:

1. Shred your cabbage, either by hand or (the easy way) with a food processor, using the shredding blade.

2. Add a layer of cabbage on the bottom of your vessel. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt onto that layer and press down firmly until juice emerges. This happens by breaking down the cellular structure of the cabbage, creating the liquid that will help ferment the cabbage.

Continue this process of a layer of cabbage, layer of salt, and press.

3. Once you have used all of your cabbage and salt, place your weighted stone onto the cabbage, pressing down (You could use a large bag of salt water- for the weight but also in case your bag breaks, you’re safe with the salted water). There should be at least an inch of liquid above the cabbage.

4. Close your pot or cover your vessel with a cloth napkin. My awesome pot has a lip around the top. This lip is then filled with water, creating a tight seal. Air is able to leak out of the pot, but no air is able to get back in.

5. Store your pot at room temperature, slightly warmer, for 2-3 days. Then store the pot in a slightly cooler place (around 59-62 degrees F).

Let your pot sit for 4-6 weeks. Long time, but soooooooooooo worth it.

Veggies & Beer (in the brewing process)

I’m about a week and a half out from being able to dig into my delicious sauerkraut! And you know I’ll be showcasing all the awesomeness as soon as I can!

But, for now, take a look at my kimchi recipe (at the bottom of the post). It’s one of the best things I’ve every made. I can’t wait to make it again in my Stoneware Pot!

What about you? Have you ever fermented veggies?

What is your favorite thing to eat fermented?

Would you be interested in learning about the Beer Brewing process?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Geraldine November 5, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I have the same German Crock..but I’m using it for the first time making kraut. Do you stir it while it’s fermenting or just let it sit?

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Andrew W August 10, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Where did you get your stone weight from? I always just have to use river rocks, but I want something a little less . . . earthy. Thanks.

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Lori August 25, 2013 at 7:46 AM

Hi there, the weighted stones actually came with the crock pot. I think you could do a little research on that to find a place that carries them or even fill water bottles up and use them as weight- but make sure you clean them well first!

Good luck!

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janet @ the taste space January 15, 2012 at 1:07 AM

Awesome post! Love your pot! I made my first batch of sauerkraut last week (just 5 lbs though) in a utility grade plastic container… still not ready yet but it looks like I need to be patient….. I’ve been warned that my house will smell like sauerkraut, but not yet… I bet your pot is great for keeping out the smells!!

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Lee @ fit foodie finds January 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM

Lori! You are so dang cute. Okay that is an awesome present. For xmas I got a dehydrator and I LOVE IT. Foodie presents are THE BEST!

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Steph January 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Awesome! Cover that beer though!!

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Christin@purplebirdblog January 13, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Sweet!!!! I have a question about the kimchi… what is the veggie/salt/sriracha ratio there? And how long did you let that ferment before putting it in the fridge?

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Lori January 15, 2012 at 9:26 AM

I did a LOT of veggies for mine. I think I only did about 4 tbsp of salt though. I was going light on the salt for the kimchi but you could do more. Just make sure you’re getting enough salt and massaging the crap out of the veggies so you have enough liquid.

For the glass jar and cloth versions, I would wait only about 3-4 days before eating and refrigerating. This way the bacteria would stop- good and bad bacteria. With the fermentation pot I have now, no air at all can get in, which makes sure I won’t get all that bad bacteria forming.

Does that help?

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Katie January 12, 2012 at 8:13 PM

I love sauerkraut, but I had no idea that it took so long in those pots. I’ve only ever made it in glass, but only let it ferment for 3-4 days before refridgerating it. Am I doing it wrong or is there a difference with the pots?

Kimchi rules. I bought a Korean kimchi spice mix that I can’t wait to try out. But I still have a jar of kimchi to finish first.

Reply

Lori January 15, 2012 at 9:27 AM

I never waited more than 3 or 4 days MAX to eat mine and put it in the fridge. But I think the difference is that with the glass jars and the cloth over it, the air is allowed in and out and more bacteria forms. You can’t leave it too long that way or it will mold… the unhealthy kind of bacteria. 😉

My pot won’t let ANY air in and all the air inside is pushed out because of the water seal around it. It’s pretty cool. In Germany they would let their pots sit in their basements over the long winters for months before they pulled them out to eat it. Pretty crazy stuff. So I think that’s the difference. They’re fermented after a few days but REALLY fermented after a few weeks….

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Pure2raw Twins January 12, 2012 at 6:04 PM

yay for making your own sauerkraut! we love making oun own fermented foods and drinks! we just made ourselves more saukerkraut too!

hugs

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