Almost every culture has some sort of fermented cabbage dish. This is because in the time before refrigeration and canning this was the best way to preserve the harvest for the winter. Over time it sometimes became associated with that culture at the most basic level. When you think of Korean food bet you Kimchi is one of the first things that pops into your head. Same goes for Germany with the timeless classic Sauerkraut. When I was a kid I remember my mother and grandmothers cutting head after head of cabbage by hand or with a slaw box and packing it into crocks like this to allow it to ferment.
Not knocking this method at all as it has work for hundreds of years, but there must be a way to simplify the process without compromising the finished product. Enter the Mason Jar method of making Sauerkraut. It is quick, easy, and allows you to work with much smaller quantities of cabbage.
Yeild: 2 Litres or Quarts
Medium Head of Cabbage
3 Tbsp Kosher or Pickling Salt
2 Cleaned and Sterilized Quart or Litre Mason Jars complete with snap lids
Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, cut in half and remove the core. With a sharp knife cut the cabbage into thin strips as pictured below.
Once the cabbage is cut mix it with the salt in a large bowl and set aside for about an hour until the cabbage has had a chance to wilt good and the salt has started to pull moisture out of the cabbage. Place your jars on a hard surface and start packing the cabbage into the jars with your fingers. You want to make sure the cabbage including the liquid is no higher than the neck of the jar and that there is at least an inch of liquid above the cabbage (use some of the liquid from your bowl to top it up if needed). Place the lid on the jar and tighten it loosely as air will need to escape during the fermentation stage. Set the jars somewhere out of the way yet accessible enough that you can monitor them regularly to ensure the cabbage remains submerged in the brine. After 7-10 days the fermentation process will have transformed the cabbage into glorious sauerkraut. At this stage you can place it in the refrigerator for use right away or you may choose to can it for use later on. You can either water bath can it for 30 minutes or steam can it for 45 minutes.
Check out the Sauerkraut that Jack Van Fleet made.