Back in the day I was happily swimming away in the deep waters that can only be described as “crunchy-hippie-Momma.”

It’s quite an ocean to take a dip in… and if you spend any time out there you learn so much. There are waves and waves of interesting thoughts and concepts to check out.

I loved my time as a crazy Crunchy Momma.

I certainly don’t regret cloth diapering Double Trouble and living in Germany made it easier to go green and shop locally. I started a lot of really great habits when I was a hippie.

It’s a very interesting part of my journey and in a lot of ways, still a part of me. 

But I do remember having to make a decision about the time I wanted to start my business… I only had time for “Crunchy Momma Lite”

So while I still make my own deodorant and toothpaste and my kids will always associate the smell of essential oils with their Mommy, you can sometimes find USDA beef in my fridge, store-bought granola in my pantry, and conventional makeup on my counter.

With the time I have available, that’s as crunchy as we’re going to be these days. 

 

 

But back when I was flirting with the idea of making all our food from scratch, I learned a ton about the process of fermenting food. Some of those experiments went badly, like the time I exploded a gallon of homemade ginger-ale all over the living room (operator error, I assure you – fermenting is generally a safe process!)

I tried a lot of different recipes, mostly from the cookbooks Nourishing Traditions {affiliate link} and Wild Fermentation {affiliate link} but the only one I like enough to make again and again is ironically the most traditional and basic of them all.

Sauerkraut. 

You either love it or you hate it. And if you love it, maybe give this recipe a shot!

 

 

I am the kind of weirdo that eats this stuff right out of the jar as a “snack.”

I think I crave the salty crunch and I love how virtuous I feel satisfying that craving with a humble vegetable that I would otherwise NEVER eat!

I also love it as a salty topping (almost a condiment) for everything from soup to sandwiches. It tastes really good on potato salad.

In classic Jessica-fashion, the term “recipe” is used loosely here. You’ll want to snag one of those two books for more detailed information about sauerkraut. But one thing I love is how this isn’t really that hard to mess up. Which will make your skirt fly up if that’s how you like to cook. Or stress you out if you need OCD-like measurements. Apologies if that’s you, bear with me!

 

 

So go gather: a few heads of sauerkraut, some high quality salt, a big bowl, a rubber mallet, a cheese grater, a chef’s knife, and a cutting board. 

You also need some clean mason jars with tight-fitting lids. This isn’t a heat-canning method, but you do need a tight seal on your fermenting containers.

Optional: an oven-mit to protect your hand. I have a history of taking chunks out of my thumb so my silicone mit, while a little bulky, seems to do the trick. I know you can buy things that are actually made for this purpose {affiliate link} but I just haven’t gotten around to it, yet.

 

 

Now you get shredding.

I use this part of my box grater. I know it’s not super fancy… but it gets the cabbage sliced more thin than when I used to slice it with my knife.

I might try the slicing attachment of my new food processor next time. I’ll update you if that works well, too.

But you can’t get more simple than a box grater and seriously it works GRATE. 

ha.

 

 

There will be chunks leftover from shredding with the grater, so I chop those up nice and small with my knife.

It’s not a science, you can be as willy-nilly as you like! 

 

 

Shred a bunch, then spread it out in your big a$$ bowl…

 

 

…then sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the top.

(and when I say generous, I mean… a bit. I have added too much salt before. So you want to make sure you’re salting well because the salt is going to help release the cabbage juices and it’s going to be the main preservative to kick-start the facto-fermentation process. BUT you can oversalt. Just saying.)

 

 

And now for the really fun part! 

 

 

Take all the frustration you’ve been carrying around all day and take it out on your cabbage!

Really beat the shenanigans out of it! 

 

 

You just keep pounding and smashing and beating up your cabbage till it starts to get juicy.

Keep layering in more cabbage, sprinkling more salt, and releasing all your negative energy. This is a very therapeutic time for me. But not a good activity for early in the morning or late at night, out of respect for sleeping/resting housemates 😉

Sometimes this is where I add some caraway seeds. They give a really nice, classic sauerkraut flavor. But lately I’ve been in the mood for pure, plain and simple sauerkraut. So it’s just salt and cabbage for me. But you make your own choices and own it.

 

 

Now, using clean hands, I just scoop up the cabbage and start cramming it into my wide mouth mason jars.

My mallet works perfectly for pressing the cabbage down. You want it to be packed really tight.

Keep packing and pressing until the cabbage approaches the top of the jar. You want to leave AT LEAST an inch of space at the top. As the cabbage ferments it expands, so don’t over-fill.

While you’re pressing it into the jars, notice the juices. Your goal is to have salty “brine” covering all the veggies. 

If there’s not enough juice, don’t sweat it. Just add a little bit of water… just enough to cover the veggies.

 

 

And you’re done!

Well, sort of. You need to leave the jars out on your counter for 3 days or so. It’s not the end of the world if you forget about them or something… but they do need to be out at room temperature to get the fermentation process started.

You can then transfer them to a cool cellar or right to your fridge. (that’s my jam)

 

 

 

They say sauerkraut reaches it’s peak flavor and texture after it’s been sitting for 6 months unopened. I have neither the foresight, the organization, or the patience to remember to regularly be making large batches of this stuff in time to rotate it like that. I pretty much remember to make more when I’ve finished the last jar.

But the fermentation process is pretty cool because it really does preserve it and you really can leave it unopened for a long time. Like, a year or more!

But I just eat it right away 😉 

 

 

Do you love sauerkraut? Did you like this post? Please pin it to your recipe board and tell me in the comments if you have ever tried making it yourself!

Also, how do you like to eat your sauerkraut? I’m always up for new ideas! Especially since I’m the only one in the house who eats this stuff. (Another reason it’s great that it doesn’t go bad for years!)