Peppery Sauerkraut -
this recipe yields about 2 quarts
This sauerkraut has a kick to it !
What you need:
your fermenting vessel (a 2 quart mason jar or any other 2 quart glass or ceramic container with a wide opening)
a large bowl
6 small bowls
1 head of cabbage
salt (non-refined) - sea salt works well, also “Real Salt” and Himalayan salt
1 red or yellow onion
1 hot red pepper
a thumb size piece fresh ginger root
6 cloves garlic
Wash your fermenting vessel with warm soapy water, rinse and set aside to dry.
Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove its core, then cut into strips. Each time you have about 4 handfuls of cabbage cut, place cabbage strips into the big bowl and sprinkle it with 2 generous pinches of salt. Repeat until all cabbage has been cut and placed into the large bowl.
With the potato masher, pound on the cabbage, so that it breaks and softens. You will notice the cabbage becoming wet and glossy, as the salt pulls juices out of the cabbage. Let the cabbage sit for about an hour, once in a while pounding it with the potato masher. In the meantime cut all the other ingredients.
Peel the carrots and cut into rounds. Place into a bowl and set aside.
Halve the onion then cut crossways into slices. Place into a bowl and set aside.
Remove the seeds and chop the peppers. Place peppers into bowls and set aside.
Peel the ginger, chop and place into a bowl and set aside.
Peel the garlic, chop and place into a bowl and set aside.
Check back on your cabbage. Has the pounding produced enough liquid, so that the cabbage is partly submerged in liquid? If not massage and squeeze the cabbage by hand.
Then begin to fill your fermenting vessel with the prepped vegetables. Take about two handfuls of cabbage and firmly push it down into the vessel. Sprinkle with a little of all of the other ingredients. Continue layering cabbage with the other ingredients, each time pushing them down tightly into the jar. You will notice more and more liquid coming out of the cabbage. End with a layer of cabbage leaving 2 “ (5 cm) free of the top of the jar.
If there is not enough cabbage juice to cover the vegetables, add a little brine to make up for it.
The brine is made from previously boiled and cooled water plus salt. The relationship water to salt is 2 cups water (500 ml) to 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir the brine until the salt has dissolved.
Pour enough of the brine into your fermenting vessel until the vegetables are covered with liquid.
Place a clean flat round object into the vessel and add a clean weight on top to keep the vegetables immersed in brine at all times. I happen to have a flat bottomed glass dish that fits perfectly into the opening of my 9 cup sized Ikea jar. I have also used small plates and plastic lids that I have cut to size with scissors. And then I place a glass filled with water as a weight on top of it. You can use other objects as weights as well. Just make sure they are clean.
Cover the vessel with a dish towel. This will prevent dust or insects from falling into your vegetables. Never close the vessel tightly with a lid, as fermentation gases need to be able to escape.
Place your vessel into a bowl or deep plate to catch any overflow that might happen during the first days of fermentation.
Let your fermenting vessel sit out at room temperature. Check once in a while to make sure that the vegetables are always covered with the brine, as lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process. If vegetables float to the surface, mold can develop on them. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface of the brine.
Carbon dioxide is released during fermentation. So the appearance of bubbles around the submerged vegetables is a clear sign that lacto-fermentation is indeed underway.
In my experience cabbage takes at least one week to ferment. Times vary depending on the temperature in the room. After 7 days taste your kraut. If it tastes pleasantly sour and to your liking, you can remove the weight, close the jar with a lid and place it into the refrigerator for storage. If it just tastes salty and not sour enough, let it sit out a few more days or up to a week.
Good luck! And ENJOY!
For more info on the process of lacto-fermenting and its benefits click here