Now is the best time to make sauerkraut. Fermentation is one of the oldest ways of preserving food. There is nothing complicated in the fermentation technology itself. The main thing is to do everything clearly and consistently. Since childhood, I have watched my grandparents make it. But when I started to ferment the cabbage myself, I didn’t always succeed. And I was very disappointed when my sauerkraut turned out to be too sour or too soft instead of juicy and crispy. So I tried to figure out what I did wrong. And I want to share my experience with you.
How to choose cabbage for fermenting?
Nobody doubts that to get good sauerkraut, you need to buy good cabbage. But what kind of cabbage would be good to ferment? Only late and medium-late varieties are suitable for fermenting. Such heads of cabbage are dense, white in the cut with thin leaves and a small stump.
Early cabbage is not suitable because it has little sugar, and therefore the fermentation processes are slow down. It is better to pick up the cabbage after the first frost if you have your garden, as it becomes more sugary. The best sauerkraut is with freshly picked cabbage. It’s all about lactic acid bacteria. They live on the surface of leaves and die during extended storage. These bacteria affect the quality of fermentation.
What are the points to pay attention to during fermentation?
Now we have the suitable cabbage. The most important for the fermentation is that the cabbage should release its juice. So, sprinkle chopped cabbage with salt, rub it lightly with your hands, and tamp each layer tightly!
What will improve the taste of sauerkraut?
Keep the proportions of the ingredients. For every 10 lb of shredded cabbage, take about five full tablespoons of non-iodized (that’s important!) kosher salt. Different additives will improve the flavor of the cabbage. You may take shredded carrots, radish, garlic, ginger, jalapeno peppers, cranberries, beetroots, pumpkin, apples! Bay leaves, black peppercorns, allspice, caraway, coriander are the best spices for the cabbage. Some people add sugar to speed up fermentation. But it can make your sauerkraut soft.
How to store sauerkraut?
The storage temperature of sauerkraut is very important. It should be about 32° F. If the cabbage freezes, it will become soft, the crunch will be lost, and there will be less valuable properties. Ideal storage containers are glass jars or glass containers with lids. But you can ferment both in glass jars and in ceramic or clay pots.
How do you know that the process is going right?
The ideal temperature for fermentation is 65 ° F. By the end of the first day; the active fermentation will begin in the sauerkraut. Pierce it to the bottom of a jar with a wooden stick twice a day; otherwise, the sauerkraut will be bitter. One of the signs that it is ready is that the foam does not appear, and the brine becomes transparent.
Return the spilled brine to the jar; otherwise, the cabbage will be dry. After that, store the jars in a cooler place, like the refrigerator. Keep it there for another two days, and after that, you can taste it. It is rich in vitamins, fiber, and probiotics, and it is such tasty!