Making small batches of Sauerkraut at home is very simple. The keyword is cleanliness. Start on a clean cutting board, with a clean knife, a clean bowl, a clean jar for fermentation and storage and clean hands. There is no need to sterilise in boiling water or steam. A good general wash of all the above with warm soapy water and then a good rinse until all the soap is gone should do.
1,5 kg Cabbage, either white or red are good
150 g coarse sea salt
Tbsp of caraway seeds (optional)
Non reactive (glass) bowl
Glass preserving jar
Small glass jar for weight
Cotton tea towel
Wash all surfaces with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly, until no traces of soap are left. Rinse the whole cabbage under cold running water. Cut the cabbage in quarters from the crown to the stem side. Remove the outer leaf layer or two of at least two of the cabbage quarters, and set aside those that are the freshest to use later as a weight barrier. Lay each cabbage quarter on its outer side on the cutting board and slice in thin strips from the crown to the stem side. You can slice all the way to the core and include it too, but do slice it as thin as possible. Transfer the sliced cabbage into a large glass bowl and add the coarse sea salt. Mix it around gently with your hands so that the salt is spread out evenly. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime you can clean up the work surface. After the 10-15 minute pause, come back to your sliced and salted cabbage. Massage it with both your hands, pressing the cabbage with strength. The cabbage will start to sweat and release a beautiful cabbage-salt water. In the case of white cabbage it turns a light yellow tone, and in the case of red cabbage all the white lines in the cabbage strips turn to a homogenous purple colour. I refer to this as the -wilted cabbage- stage. At this point, if using them, you can add the caraway seeds as you continue to massage and mix the seeds around. You will know when you have massaged the cabbage enough, when there is a good 3-4 cm deep puddle of cabbage water in the bottom of your bowl. Now it is time to transfer the cabbage and the cabbage water into a glass preserving jar. If you have a wide mouth funnel it will be helpful, otherwise just use your hands. Pass the wilted cabbage from the bowl into the preserving jar and lastly pour all the cabbage water into the jar. Press the cabbage down tight in the jar with your fist and then cover the top cabbage layer with a clean leaf that you set aside at the beginning. In the utensils list, I list a small glass jar as a weight. You can fill it with pebbles or grains. I use a clean marble spice bowl. It is heavy and keeps the whole cabbage leaf from floating up as well as the wilted cabbage, insuring that the cabbage and now to be sauerkraut is always under the water level. Cover the jar with a cotton tea towel held into place with an elastic band. Place the jar with the fermenting sauerkraut in a dark cool cupboard or kitchen corner, out of direct sunlight. I leave the cloth on the lid for 3-6 days and thereafter I remove the cloth and close the tight preserving jar lid. There is no need to store in the sauerkraut in the fridge before opening it again to eat. Actually the fridge will slow the fermentation process, which is not the goal. The longer it ferments the tastier. Ideally I wait 3 months minimum. As the original batch is small and easy to handle it is also easy to overlap production so that you always have ready to eat homemade sauerkraut in the making. In the fridge, after opening it, it will keep for another good six months, unless you eat it before.