Every year for St. Patrick’s Day, my family serves traditional corned beef for dinner. I quickly found out, much to my dismay, that my husband doesn’t like it. He will however eat the leftover corned beef in a Reuben sandwich, and what’s a Reuben without sauerkraut? It may not be an Irish dish but it compliments Irish American dishes with its tangy crunch. So for St. Paddy’s Day this year I’m gifting all my friends with a jar of homemade sauerkraut so they can start new Irish American traditions with their families too.
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. It consists of two basic ingredients, cabbage and salt. It’s also surprisingly healthy. It’s an immune booster, cancer fighter, flu fighter, and a digestive aid, and if you don’t believe me, look for yourself.
Here’s what you’ll need:
• 5 lbs of fresh cabbage
• 3 tbs sea salt
• A large food safe container
• A plate
• A weight
• Some cloth
Start by shredding your cabbage, the finer the better. Toss the shreds into your container, I used a bucket that was once used for pickles at a restaurant. Smash the shreds down with your fists, don’t be afraid to get messy, old German ladies used to stomp it in their bare feet! Add the salt intermittently as you go, so that it is evenly dispersed.
Once you’ve added all your cabbage and salt and given it one final smash, place your plate right on top of the whole mess, then place a weight on top of the plate. Anything will do the trick, a bag of beans, a big can of stew, a marble mortar and pestle. Then cover your container with your cloth (I used an old dish towel). Find a place to put it where it will be, cool, dark, and undisturbed (basements are great). Check on it every couple of days and skim the top when you see scum start to build up. It’s all a part of the natural fermentation process, so don’t worry if you can’t get it all, it wont hurt. In a week the cabbage will start to sour, and it can go up to four weeks, or longer if the weather is cold. Canning sauerkraut is very basic. Here is a great video I found that walks you through the steps. I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do and have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day!
- Canning Labels • I chose the “Rococco” style in Lime Green and Gold.