Yields 1 gallon, 1-4 weeks
6 lb cabbage
2 lb carrots
1 tbsp caraway seed
1 tbsp cumin seed
3 dried thai chilis
3 tbsp unrefined sea salt
1 gal glass jar or crock
weight (river rocks, yogurt lid or plate & heavy things)
cloth & rubber-band
1. Prep your cabbage and carrots. We thinly slice cabbage and cut our carrots julienne style. Put them in a big bowl. If you have outer leaves of cabbage, rather than compost them, place them aside to use as a top layer between your kraut and your weight (We will explain this in more detail shortly).
2. Add 1 tablespoon each of caraway and cumin to your veggies.
3. Cut open 3 thai chilis and collect the seeds – add them to your ingredients. Chop the skin of the chilis and add these too.
4. Add 2 tbsp of salt and massage into your ingredients for 3-5 minutes. Your cabbage will release water, which will serve as your kraut’s brine. Don’t forget to taste prior to packing – you may want to add more salt to your liking. The addition of salt is important for a multitude of reasons, but how much you add is up to you. Here’s a nifty chart on salinity percentages for your reference.
5. When the ingredients are nice and wet, pack them into your container. The goal is to pack your vegetables until your brine is above your veggies. Note: this can take time and a lot of strength! We have friends who use wooden spoons or even wine bottles to pack their kraut down below the brine. This is important, because any veggies exposed to air can grow mold. You can scrape off the mold (it’s not dangerous), but you will lose a little bit of kraut.
6. Once it’s packed down, take the cabbage leaves we recommended you set aside from the beginning of the recipe and layer them on top of your kraut. This way, the outer leaves will grow mold first, and you can simply toss them into your compost.
7. Your weight: It’s easy to fill a small jar with water and sit it on top of your ferment – if you have other ideas for weights, that still allow your ferment to get some air exposure, give it a try. As you can see, our winning method on the bus is using 3 outer cabbage leaves on the top layer of our kraut followed by several scrubbed & boiled river rocks. Our river rocks were gathered from the Willamette River back home, so we know our ferments carry a little bit of our beloved Oregon with each bite.
There are a lot of good methods, and many come straight from our creative common sense. Cover your vessel with a cloth and rubber band, to keep random bugs and dust particles out.
8. Wait a week and taste – maybe you’ll want to keep it going another week, but it’s good practice to try your ferments along their journey. Ferments will work at different speeds depending on their environment. Temperature is a huge factor – most ferments thrive best at 68-76 F, just like us.
9. When your ferment is to your liking, cover it with a lid and place in the fridge or other cold storage. Keeping your new kraut cool stalls fermentation process, so you can enjoy the fermented flavor from when you sealed the jar.