In the Dutch winters we like our stamppotten. One of the most famous is stamppot zuurkool (sauerkraut).
Making your own sauerkraut is easy. Good thing is, you can ad spices to ferments with the cabbage to your own taste.
The necessary items:
– Cabbage (red and/or green)
– Sea salt, fine (about 3 tablespoons is good for about 5 pounds of vegetables)
– Storage vessel (ceramic crock, large glass jar – just no plastic or metal)
– Mixing bowl
– For your taste, cloves, peppercorn, juniper berries (NL-jeneverbessen, CH- 杜松子)
Chop up your cabbage. Chop it coarsely or finely; it’s all fine.
What we need is high surface area, because more surface area means more fermentation and exposure to the juices. Dump it into the mixing bowl and add salt.
Dump these into the bowl and add some salt and the other ingredients of choice.
Use your hands and squeeze and press the ingredients together. Squeeze hard. You want to stimulate the natural juices of the vegetables, because they’re going to be the brine. The salt will already start pulling the moisture out, but you can certainly help the process.
Start packing your mix into your vessel. You can use a mason jar, but you can also use a larger ceramic crock for a bigger batch. Just make sure you can cover whatever vessel you use. Pack it down good and hard, going slowly to make sure each art you put in is completely compressed in the jar. This will extract water and ensure the fermentation process goes smoothly.
Cover it with a snug fitting cap, or a plate if you’re using a larger crock. You want to make sure to keep the mix packed tight and submerged in the brine.
Every few hours for the next day or so, press down on the top and make sure the mix is submerged in brine. If it isn’t by the next day, you might have old cabbage. You can add a bit of water to cover everything, along with a teaspoon of salt.
Check your kraut every day or so. The volume will reduce as fermentation begins, and the color will change too. Mold or scum might appear on the surface every day; just skim that stuff off. As long as you stay on top of it, your sauerkraut is totally protected by the brine.
Start tasting your kraut after a few days. It should be tangy by now. The taste will get stronger as time increases. Every time you eat some, make sure you pack the rest of it in just like before: tightly packed, submerged.
Though sauerkraut is usually ready to eat in 3-7 days, if it’s cool enough, like in a cold cellar, sauerkraut can improve for months. If you live in warmer climates, you might want to move your kraut into the fridge after a few weeks.