Lori Taylor, The Produce Moms founder, is an ambassador for the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. Together we can eat more fruits and veggies!
Home fermentation is growing in popularity, and that comes as no surprise to us. Fermenting foods at home is easy to do, requires very little equipment, and yields delicious and nutritious foods. There are numerous studies linking the consumption of fermented foods to improved gut health and immune systems.
There is no better way to ease into the world of home fermentation than making homemade sauerkraut. Making sauerkraut is simple because it requires only a few ingredients and can be done without a lot of special equipment.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut or “sour cabbage” is simply fermented, finely cut raw cabbage. It’s thought to have originated in China, although Sauerkraut is a German word and often associated with German food. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where sour cabbage got its start, but one thing is for sure…it’s delicious and loved around the world!
How to Make Spicy Sauerkraut
There are many ways to make sauerkraut, the most common being traditional German style with caraway seeds. Other variations include adding other veggies like carrots and onions. Although we love and enjoy traditional sauerkraut, we thought it would be fun to kick up the spice level a notch to make a spicy version using diced jalapeños.
To start, rinse your heads of cabbage and remove the outer leaves (keep outer leaves for later use). Slice cabbage very thinly using a chef’s knife or mandoline slicer.
Place sliced cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Knead and squeeze the cabbage and salt together for 5-7 minutes until it begins to release liquid. Don’t be timid during this step, you really need to KNEAD in order to break down the cabbage. Toss in your diced jalapeños and stir until combined.
Transfer the cabbage and liquid to clean canning jars, making sure to keep enough brine to fully cover the cabbage.
Place reserved cabbage leaves over top of the cabbage/brine mixture to help minimize the amount of air that reaches the fermenting cabbage.
Weigh the cabbage down using something heavy. We’ve used convenient glass weights made specifically for this purpose, but you can always get creative and find something else around the kitchen that will work. Small glasses or plates are a go-to for many home fermenters.
Secure an air lock to the top of the jar to prevent contamination. Let your sauerkraut ferment for 1-4 weeks, sampling along the way to make sure it tastes just right.
Once your sauerkraut is ready, move it to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.
The Produce For Better Health (PBH) Foundation is sharing fun, easy ways to ferment fruits and veggies in their Fermentation Nation Series. From simple sides to delicious drinks to expert tips, they’ve provided everything you need to dive into the wonderful world of fermentation!