My real entree into lacto-fermentation was Hot Sauce . Only after I started research did I appreciate the fact that I had been fermenting Kimchi for many years. Sauerkraut is the most common path into food fermentation. It is simple, the ingredients are common and easy to aquire, and it is actually hard to mess up.
We would rarely eat sauerkraut from the grocery store because it tends to be too sharp. This is because it is made with vinegar. I promise you that if you make your own kraut at home you will be pleased with just how much better it tastes when fermented. The vinegar is there, but no force was involved.
Much like the story with Kimchi, fermenting kraut was a great way to preserve summer produce for the cold winter months. It is also a LOT easier than brewing beer.
We were on a road trip to Albuquerque when suddenly Gloria asked me why we had not tried making Sauerkraut. I decided that I would try as soon as we got home.
The hardest part about this delectable product is that raw cabbage is very tough and it is hard to get brine out of it. I have always had to prepare some brine to add after it is in the jar.
There are many recipes for Sauerkraut and you can search for them. I keep things simple. Green Cabbage and fennel seeds.
I think this preference grows out of some experience with traditional Jewish Delis where I grew up. The smell is like walking through the door at a really good deli.
I like to do this in half-gallon batches. I do pound the cabbage, but not as much as I have read in some recipes. I ferment for around 20 days at 72 F so that it is just tender but retains some crunch.
Two large heads of Green Cabbage
Two TBSP of Fennel Seeds
3 cups of brine (3 cups distilled water + 2 1/2 TBSP of natural salt.
Cut the end off the heads of cabbage, then slice them in half from the core. Cut out the core then cut the whole head in 1/8 inch slices. Chop the Cabbage lightly. Transfer to a bowl and pound the cabbage with the veggie packer.
Pack the cabbage into a 1/2 gallon wide mouth mason jar and tamp it down firmly as you go. Once you have filled the jar, pour in brine to cover the cabbage and place the fermentation weight. Seal the jar and ferment from 15 to 30 days (to taste).