Photo: Stephanie Weaver
What is sauerkraut? Sauerkraut (“sour cabbage” in German) is a naturally fermented raw salad that’s easy to make at home with very few tools. This batch is made from green cabbage, carrots, and fennel fronds for extra flavor.
- 1 green cabbage
- 3-4 large carrots or the equivalent in baby carrots
- 1 large bunch of fennel fronds
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- Wash the vegetables.
- Set a large bowl on the counter, with the salt next to it. As you shred the veggies, add them to the bowl. Sprinkle each layer lightly with salt. (You can make this without salt, although it will not be as crispy.)
- Remove any wilted outer leaves, then cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the hard core. Using a sharp knife, or a food processor fitted with a shredder disk, shred or slice the cabbage finely.
- Shred or grate the carrots.
- Remove any hard stems from the fennel, and then finely chop.
- Mix everything together thoroughly. The salt draws the water out of the vegetables and creates natural brine.
- Pack the crock, using the flat-bottomed cup to mash each layer flat, removing any air. Once you have all the vegetables in there, put the plate on top and press down. You should already have a fair bit of brine (salty liquid). Add the weight. Press again.
- You need to have the liquid rise above the level of the plate, so that the vegetables are not in contact with air (otherwise you will get mold, not fermentation). This usually happens within a few hours. If it hasn’t happened overnight, then make 1 cup of salt water by mixing 1 teaspoon (5 g) of salt with 1 cup (250 ml) of filtered water and pour it in.
- Put a clean kitchen towel over the crock. This allows air to do its magic while keeping insects and dust out. Place the crock in a cool dark place. I check it after three or four days, and skim off any foam that has formed, washing the crock, then replacing it.
- I taste it after five days, sometimes seven if I forget. Putting a sticky-note on my kitchen calendar helps me remember when I started it.