If you couldn’t tell by the last name (Gresbach) I have a good amount of German ethnicity in me. Although I don’t have any first or second relatives from Germany I do if you were to dig back over 100 years ago to my Great great grandfolks who are from Crov, Germany. I guess I’m only about 20% German but for me that’s enough to at least relish my heritage and get creative on the food of that culture.
My dad is very big on German foods such as sauerkraut, potato salad, and of course German beers. I’ve eaten more than you could imagine possible of sauerkraut during my time and love it more everyday. Now that I’ve fallen in love with infusing liquors, pickling fruits and vegetables, and canning jams, I wanted to begin the fermentation phase of food and beverages. The easiest food fermented item for beginners is the making of sauerkraut. If you are for the most part not a fan of sauerkraut you should try making it at home. It might change your life. This is a simple recipe that just requires salt and time. I was counting down the weeks until it was finally time to eat the kraut and boy oh boy is it good.
Active Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 3 Weeks
-1 Head of cabbage, finely shredded
-2 Tablespoons Salt
-1 or 2 Containers to ferment cabbage in
–Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Begin to squeeze the salt and cabbage together using your hands, kneading it thoroughly to break up the cellular structure of the cabbage.
-When the cabbage has become limp and released its juice, transfer it to a container you wish to ferment in. Pack the salted cabbage into the container as tight as you can, eliminating air bubbles. Continue packing until the cabbage is submerged in its liquid.
-Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature, undisturbed for at least 3 weeks. You can test it every day until it reaches your liking. I recommend 3 weeks to get a stronger sour bite that sauerkraut contains.
-When finished transfer container to the refrigerator and hold in there for up to 6 months.
**Notes: The real key to preparing homemade sauerkraut, and any fermented food, is that the solid materials rest below the liquid. Fermentation is an anaerobic process and to expose your ferments to air increases the likelihood that they’ll become contaminated by stray microbes, yeasts and molds. (Source)
Some of my favorite additions to sauerkraut that make it super tasty is:
Caraway seeds + bacon= Cook 2 strips of bacon, set aside. Add in 1/2 cup sauerkraut, and 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds to bacon fat from pan. cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Chop up bacon and sprinkle on top.
Sauerkraut + hot sauce + spicy mustard= Smother this mixture on top of a grilled hot dog!
Sauerkraut + Bratwursts + German beer or Belgian beer= Grill a few brats, top with sauerkraut and flush it all down with a light German beer or my favorite Belgian beer: Chimay.
I’m also working on a kimchi recipe that will come out in the near future. 🙂