Traditional Sauerkraut

I am a real Kraut Rocker.

Sauerkraut is nothing more than white cabbage preserved by fermentation, or lactic acid fermentation, and is probably one of the best-known German dishes. Kraut has also been adopted as a stereotyping term for Germans worldwide.

Since cabbage is such a good staple food, you can make sauerkraut almost all year round. Still, I prefer to make our sauerkraut in the fall because I love the regional fresh Ackerpille from Westhof in the Dithmarscher Marsch, behind the dike on the North Sea. Ackerpille is a type of primal white cabbage, flatter, looser and less bloating than regular cabbages. It's easy to knead brine from Ackerpille, so it's good for beginners. If you have the chance, definitely try them! You can also use pointy cabbage, which will result in a softer sauerkraut.

Traditionally, wooden barrels and earthenware fermentation crocks were used to make sauerkraut. To allow air sealing and simultaneous escape of gases, many ceramic fermentation pots have a circumferential water channel in which the lid sits and prevents oxygen from entering. Just as well and suitable for fermenting in small quantities at home work jars with rubber seals, swing-top jars or weck brand canning jars.

This is the basic recipe for classic German sauerkraut, quantities are for a 1 liter vessel.

INGREDIENTS

  • 800 gr. white cabbage
  • 1 tsp whole caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 16 gr. salt (2%)

For a 1 liter jar, the white cabbage should weigh about 1 kg, leaving about 800 grams of weight without the stalk after cutting. From the final weight of the cabbage, you calculate 2%, which is the weight of the salt that is added. You will need either a smaller, firm white cabbage or a slightly larger, but looser Ackerpille.

PREPARATION

The outer 3-4 leaves of the cabbage are removed and put aside, they will be used later. First, the cabbage is cut into quarters, then sliced into fine stripes with a vegetable slicer at the smallest setting. The core of the cabbage is left out. Of course, you can also cut the cabbage into strips by hand with a knife.

The spices, with the exception of the bay leaves, are lightly pressed and added to the cabbage. You can slightly toast them beforehand to intensify the flavors. Then the salt is added and the cabbage is vigorously kneaded or pounded so that the plant cells are shattered and the cell juice comes out. I like to bash it with my fists sometimes, too. When using Ackerpille, it takes no time at all until the kraut has formed enough liquid, the brine. With older, firmer storaged cabbage, you can help yourself by sprinkling the salt on the cut cabbage and letting it stand for a bit before kneading it. The salt will draw water out of the cabbage and take some of the work off your hands.

kneading sauerkraut

How much brine you need to knead exactly, you will learn with time. It must cover the white cabbage in the fermentation vessel during the entire fermentation time 1-2 cm. If you have too little brine, you simply fill up with salt water, also here please use 2% salt . Or you could use wine!

The well kneaded, wet kraut is packed tightly into a fermentation vessel, e.g. a swing top jar. When filling, the bay leaves are incorporated and everything is always pressed down neatly to avoid air pockets. Then cover everything with the cabbage leaves you set aside earlier and again press everything well under the brine. If the cabbage leaves are not enough, you can use weights or wedged wooden sticks - my ideas on that can be found in chapter basic equipment for fermentation.

During fermentation, absolutely no oxygen can contact the produce, otherwise mold may develop instead of the desired lactic acid fermentation. Once fermentation has progressed to the point where a sufficiently low pH value is present, harmful bacteria and fungi can no longer establish themselves.

Let the kraut ferment for at least 3 months. Then the taste is well balanced and it's so sour that it is shelf-stable. The oldest cabbage, which I have produced myself and then eaten, spent 14 months fermenting in my fermentation station before consumption.

Sauerkraut variations

The neat thing is that you can enjoy sauerkraut in so many flavors by incorporating herbs and spices. Taste your way through the aromas and simply ferment many small test jars until you find your personal favorites. The quantities below are given for a 1 liter jar.

Basic ingredients

  • 800 gr. white cabbage
  • 16 gr. rock salt (2%)

German sauerkraut, seasoning alternatives

You can vary the seasonings given in the recipe above. Any combination of caraway, juniper berries, mustard seeds, bay leaf or fennel seeds tastes good in classic sauerkraut. The seeds are roasted, lightly pressed or gently mortared and mixed in during kneading.

Dill Kraut
#teamstripes

Dill Kraut

  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 medium sized white onion

Finely slice the onion and incorporate while kneading. The dill is left whole and placed in layers between the kneaded cabbage when filling the jar.

Donnerkraut

  • 1-2 tsp tandoori masala
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium sized red onion

Finely slice the onion, chop the garlic. Sprinkle with the seasoning and knead. Why is this kraut called Donnerkraut (thunder kraut in English), you want to know? Because a Mr. Donner inspired me to this combination, I answer you.

Wine sauerkraut

For wine sauerkraut , Weinkraut or Rieslingkraut, a little white wine is added.

  • 50-80 ml semi-dry or dry white wine (Riesling or Scheurebe)
  • 1 tbsp caraway
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 3-5 bay leaves

Crush and incorporate the caraway and juniper when kneading. Place the bay leaves between the kneaded kraut when filling the jar. Do not use all the brine, but top off with the wine.

Chucrut Mexicano

  • 3 green jalapeños
  • ¼ red bell bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium sized white onion
  • smoked salt

Finely slice the onion and jalapeños, chop the garlic. Cut the red bell pepper into small pieces. Replace half of the salt with the smoked salt. Knead everything together - use gloves!

Not so common Sauerkraut recipes

Dishes with sauerkraut

The best probiotic and positive effect on health has the kraut, of course, raw and unheated. I love to snack on a small bowl of sauerkraut in the evening. It also tastes fabulous as an ingredient in a nice salad or as a cold side dish with smoked tofu or fish.

A delicious cooked dish is sauerkraut goulash, with lots of braised onions, clarified butter and bell peppers.

However, my favorite way to eat sauerkraut is with boiled potatoes, my mom and two kinds of black pudding. With and without raisins. The pudding, not the cabbage or the mother, of course.

When heating up sauerkraut, you lose the pure probiotic effect. But that doesn't matter, because it tastes so good and still has enough healthy ingredients.

And if you juice your raw sauerkraut, you get homemade sauerkraut juice. Sauerkraut juice contains a lot of vitamin C, lactic acid and live lactic acid bacteria and has a digestive stimulating effect on most people.

Pineapple sauerkraut

Sauerkraut with pineapple is very delicious - sweet and sour, anyone?

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 white onion
  • Lard or ghee
  • 800 gr. homemade plain sauerkraut or wine sauerkraut
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 100 ml white wine or broth
  • 2 tbsp. raw cane sugar
  • 1 pineapple
  • salt & pepper

PREPARATION

Halve the onion and cut into fine strips. Coarsely grind the juniper berries. Sauté the onions in the lard, add all the remaining ingredients except the pineapple and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Quarter the pineapple, cut off the core and peel, and, if you like, make tepache out of it. Cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Cook for another 20 minutes with the lid on and season with salt and pepper before serving.

8 Comments

  1. liebe Katsu,
    bei Zeitnot oder wenn es keinen Grund gibt, sich „abzureagieren“ 😉 😉 , kann man einfach die Osmose für sich arbeiten lassen:
    das Gehobelte mit dem Salz vermischen, mindestens 30 Min. ruhen lassen während man die nächste Portion in ein weiteres Gefäß hobelt, (oder einfach nichts tun…) und schon hat das Kraut ordentlich Lake… (ich war mal zu müde und ließ das Ganze einfach abgedeckt über Nacht „arbeiten“… kein Problem…)
    Das Donnerkraut werde ich auch mal testen… DANKE für die Idee

    • Liebe Susanne,

      das stimmt und ist wirklich praktisch! Darum steht es oben auch gleich im nächsten Satz, nachdem ich verrate, dass ich mein Kraut als Boxsack missbrauche 😉

      Bei Kimchi benutzt man ja auch genau diese Technik.

      Das Donnerkraut schmeckt wirklich fantastisch, viel Spass beim Nachbauen und guten Appetit 😋

      Liebe Grüße,
      Katsu

  2. Hast du auch ein Rezept mit Rotkohl und Apfel? Wie sind da die Mengenangabe zwischen Apfel und Kohl? 🙂 liebe Grüße Silvi

    • Liebe Silvi,

      nein, Rotkohl mit Apfel gibt es bei mir gekocht. In fermentiert schmeckt mir die Kombi nicht. Wenn Du es versuchen möchtest, nimm nicht zu viel Apfel – der Zucker wird zu Säure und Alkohol, und der Geschmack wird schnell dominant.

      Gutes Gelingen!
      Katsu

  3. Hallo Katsu,

    ich bin mit dem Rezept „Knoblauch in Honig fermentiert“ gestartet. Hier steht dabei, dass man das Glas am Anfang täglich öffnen sollte. Nun stellt sich mir die Frage, ob das bei den anderen Rezepten genau so ist?
    Gerne möchte ich das Sauerkraut und Kimchi ausprobieren, ohne Gefahr zu laufen, dass die Bügelgläser das nicht mitmachen 😀
    Vielen Dank schonmal für deine Antwort.

    • Moin Falk,

      nein, bitte nicht. Ich habe es bei dem Rezept Garlic fermented in honey dazu geschrieben, weil es in dem Fall ausnahmsweise nötig ist. Ansonsten ist es wirklich genau andersrum, die Gläser sollen geschlossen bleiben. Und das können sie auch ohne Probleme, weil Bügelgläser dafür gemacht sind.

      Ich empfehle Anfängern gerne, sich ein bisschen Grundwissen anzueignen. Im Selbststudium kannst Du das hier bei mir nachlesen. Wenn Du gerne in der Gruppe lernst, findest Du die Fermentation Love Community bei facebook.

      Gutes Gelingen!
      Katsu

  4. Thanks for the flavour ideas, Katsu!

    I recently bought a 2L fermentation crock from Aldi, and made basic sauerkraut for the first time.
    It was supposed to have caraway seeds in it, but they was overlooked while I figured out solutions to things like „I can’t read the kitchen scales while the bowl of cabbage is on top“… Next time! 🙂

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