I seriously cannot get enough sauerkraut/fermented foods in my life. I could probably down an entire mason jar full in one sitting, if I didn't have self control....but I have done it before! Even as a little kid, I ate tons of pickles and sauerkraut. I was always a weirdo I suppose. Of course, those were from cans and jars from the store, not wild fermented and full of enzymes and probiotics. But it sure didn't hurt!
These days, I've ditched the canned kraut and exclusively make my own. It is just ridiculously cheap and easy, especially compared to how expensive some wild fermented krauts can be at the health food store. Eating wild fermented veggies is basically like taking the cheapest supplement ever...they are packed with enzymes and probiotics for digestion, as well as lots of vitamin C, K2 (which can be hard to get in the diet, but is super important for bone, dental and reproductive health) and minerals like potassium from the mineral-rich sea salt. All from some chopped up old vegetables. So good!
This kraut is inspired by the flavors in dill pickles, which are still one of my favorites. Unfortunately, cucumbers aren't in season right now, so I decided to use that idea and put cabbage in the place of cucumbers. The experiment turned out to be one of my favorite krauts I've made...I'll definitely be coming back to this recipe again and again. It is, of course, perfect on a bratwurst or other tasty sausage, paired with a spicy brown mustard! The best meal I can imagine!
Dill Pickle Kraut
aka Dill Caraway Kraut
( makes about 2 quarts)
1 large head green cabbage, finely shredded
1 head fresh dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup caraway seeds
2 Tbs whole black peppercorns, crushed
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs sea salt (or to taste)
In a 1 gallon ceramic crock, combine all of the ingredients.
Using a wooden dowel or even the handle of a wooden spoon, pound the vegetables (also called "tamping") until they begin to soften and emit their water; this will create the brine.
Crush the vegetables for about 5-10 minutes to really get a good amount of brine. The pounding breaks the cell walls in the cabbage and releases the stored water. Enlist a friend to help so your arms don't get too tired!
Place a small saucer-sized plate (one that fits in the crock) on top of the vegetables. Press down firmly, so the brine rises to the top. The kraut should be fully submerged in the brine, about 1 inch. * Place a quart-sized mason jar filled with water on top of the plate....you could use any clean weight you have, but this works great....cover the crock with a towel to keep out dust and bugs and tie around the cloth with a string or a large rubber band.
Let sit for 7-14 days, depending on how fermented/tangy you like your krauts. Check every few days for mold (which can just be scraped off the surface if it forms) and taste it to see how the flavors and textures progress over time. It's a little science experiment right in your kitchen!
After the kraut is ready, transfer it to pint- or quart-sized glass jars and keep in a cool, dark place in your house. Don't worry too much about that, though...this will get eaten up really quickly if you're anything like me!
*If the brine doesn't rise above the cabbage, try tamping it for a few more minutes. Cabbage that isn't super fresh may not produce lots of water; if this happens, you can follow the rest of the steps and just check the kraut in 24 hours to see if some brine has risen to the top. If it hasn't by this point, you can make a little brine by mixing 2 cups of water with 1 tsp of sea salt and add it to the kraut. Then keep on krautin....