1 head of yummy Earth Dance Farm Napa Cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)
1 sliced jalapeno (optional, for flavor)
1 sliced cucumber (optional, for different crunchy texture)
- Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice into thin ribbons. (Optional: save one of the big outer leaves for packing later)
- Cabbage massage: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. Gradually the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you’d like to flavor your sauerkraut with the optional ingredients, mix them in now.
- Pack the cabbage: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the container. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the container.→ Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
- Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed, slip the smaller container into the cabbage filled container and weigh it down. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
- Cover: Cover with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out, but keeps out dust or insects.
- Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.
Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when the sauerkraut is “done” — go by how it tastes.
- Bubbles, Foam or White Scum: These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
- Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.
- Hot and cold temperatures: Do everything you can to store sauerkraut at a cool room temperature. At high temperatures, the sauerkraut can sometimes become unappetizingly mushy or go bad. Low temperatures (above freezing) are fine, but fermentation will proceed more slowly.