Homemade Sauerkraut: The Easy Whey

My little family is a bit obsessed with sauerkraut. It has become a staple in our refrigerator over the past year. When I see my toddler and  husband enjoying it, I feel comforted knowing they are receiving probiotics which will strengthen their immune systems. Fermented foods improve digestion, allowing enzymes to stay in tact and vitamins and minerals to be absorbed. (Read more about fermented food benefits here.) We love Bubbie's classic sauerkraut and every local, delicious product Fermenti Artisan creates. To save money, we began making our own veggie ferments this summer. It is enjoyable and doesn't take a lot of time. We make it a little different each time, but these are the basic steps we take.

Materials needed: Mason jar, vinegar, mixing bowl, chopped vegetables, sea salt, whey.

 Sanitize work space. We sanitize our cutting board, countertop, jar and bowl with vinegar and let it air dry. For small batches, we use quart and pint mason jars with screw-top lids. For this batch, we used a gallon jar with a hermetically sealed lid.
Chop or shred vegetables. We used a seven pound cabbage we purchased at the farmer's market. We also used a few carrots, a chioggia beet and a golden beet. We chopped the cabbage, shredded the carrot, and used the food processor for the beets.

Add sea salt and whey. We used 4 Tbsp of Celtic sea salt and 1 cup of whey for this gallon batch. The salt preserves and keeps the veggies crunchy, while the whey adds beneficial bacteria and acts as a catalyst for the fermenting process. We collect whey when making cheese or kefir from raw milk. If you do not consume dairy, extra sea salt or vegetable starter cultures can be used.
Mix well. Toss the veggies with the salt and whey.

Pack jar tightly. Make sure you have enough veggies to fill the jar when compacted. If you don't have enough, transfer to a smaller jar.

Seal and store. We like to cover my sauerkraut with a large cabbage leaf before sealing. We store ours in a cabinet for about a week and slightly crack the lid every day or two to allow the gasses to escape. This isn't necessary if you have air-locking lids or are using a crock. We also like to shake up the jar and make sure the liquid is able to recoat the veggies.

The final product tu. We transferred the giant jar to the refrigerator and have been enjoying it for the few weeks. Recently, I read an article from Food Renegade that suggested fermenting sauerkraut at room temperature for four weeks in order to get maximum benefits.  A month sounds like a long time to me, but I am going to try it out soon and see if I notice a difference. I'm also interested in acquiring a Harsch Crock and fermenting in a more traditional way. What is your favorite fermented food?

One Response so far.

  1. I'm glad you wrote about this. It's something that I plan to do in the future but haven't tried yet. This looks really good. :)

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