3 SALT: Create Your Brine.
Salt pulls water out of the cabbage and vegetables to create an environment where the good bacteria (mainly lactobacillus) can grow and proliferate and the bad bacteria die off.
Sprinkle vegetables and cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt and mix well.
If you want the salt to do some of the work for you, you can leave your salted and well-mixed bowl of cabbage sit for 20-60 minutes.
Then, massage the vegetables with strong hands until moist, creating the brine. You should be able to tilt the bowl to the side and see a good-sized puddle of brine, about 2–3 inches in diameter. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes.
4 PACK: Pack Mixture into Jar.
Now that you have a puddle of brine, it’s time to pack the cabbage mixture into your jar.
Grab handfuls of the salty, juicy cabbage mixture and pack them into your quart-sized wide-mouth canning jar, periodically pressing the mixture down tightly with your fist or a large spoon so that the brine rises above the top of the mixture and no air pockets remain.
Be sure to leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar. Because we weighed out just the right amount of cabbage to fit in your jar, this should happen automatically.
Pour any brine left in your mixing bowl into the jar.
Lastly, wipe down the outside of your jar and push down any loose bits stuck to the sides of the bowl or the side of your jar.
5 SUBMERGE: Hold Ferment Below Brine
Now make sure your fermenting mixture is in a safe anaerobic (no air) environment. This means that you need to keep the cabbage mixture submerged in the brine while it ferments.
Floaties Trap. Take that cabbage leaf you saved during the SETUP step. tear it down to just fit in the jar, and place it over the surface of the packed cabbage. Forgot to save a cabbage leaf? No problem. You can fold a narrow piece of parchment paper to size or even cut an old plastic lid to size.
To hold the mixture below the brine, place the 4-ounce jelly jar on top of the cabbage leaf, right side up with its lid removed.
Lightly (to allow for escape of CO2 gases), screw on the white plastic storage lid.
Label jars using green or blue painter’s tape and a permanent marker. Note the flavor of sauerkraut and the date you started fermenting.
6 FERMENT: Ferment for 1 to 4 Weeks
Time now for the friendly bacteria to do their work while you watch and wait. Can you wait 7 days to taste the tangy crunch?Place your jar of fermenting sauerkraut in a a shallow bowl (to catch the brine that may leak out during the first week of fermentation), out of direct sunlight.
Should the brine level fall (very unlikely) and remain below the level of the sauerkraut during the first week dilute 1 Tbsp of salt in 2 cups of water and pour some of this brine over the sauerkraut (removing the little jar first) until it just covers the mixture. Put the little jar back in, screw the lid on lightly and let the fermentation continue.
Don’t worry if the brine disappears after the 7- to 10-day mark. By this time, you’ve created a safe environment in which the bacteria that would cause mold or slime has been chased away by the beneficial bacteria produced during the fermentation process.
You can ferment your sauerkraut for up to 4 weeks. The longer you ferment it, the greater the number and variety of beneficial bacteria that can be produced.
7 STORE: Store in Refrigerator for Up to 1 Year
After fermenting your sauerkraut, it’s ready to go into the refrigerator and ready to be eaten.