Kraut: a guide from High Mood Food
For many of us, Kraut is the ferment we learn and love first, and at High Mood Food we can’t get enough of it, whether that’s in a toastie, on top of a High Bowl, or in one of our biotic egg pots. It’s the most classic example of the 'dry salt' method of fermentation, which is a brilliant place to start if you are new to fermenting. Here’s a ‘how-to’ that will guide you through your very first batch of kraut.
1-litre Kilner jar
1 large cabbage
- Wash your hands well, and make sure your chopping board and knife are perfectly clean.
- In order to sterilize the Kilner jar, preheat the oven to 140°C, wash and rinse the jar, remove its rubber seal, and place the in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel away the outer leaves of each cabbage and chop off the bases. Tip! Don’t throw away the bases of the cabbages – these will come in handy later..!
- Using a sharp knife, halve the cabbage and shred finely.
- It’s important to weigh the shredded cabbage. The dry salt method of fermentation uses a ratio of 2% salt. For example, 1kg of shredded cabbage needs 20g of flakey sea salt.
- In your largest mixing bowl sprinkle the shredded cabbage with the appropriate amount of salt, and begin to scrunch! Work as if you are kneading dough - it can feel very therapeutic.
- After a five minutes of squeaky 'kneading' the cabbage will be sopping wet, swimming in its own natural liquid.
Packing the jar
Make sure the Kilner jar is completely cool, and now tightly pack cabbage into the jar, pressing out any air pockets, pour over the excess liquid.
It's important that all the cabbage is submerged under the water line, as this is an anaerobic environment in which the lactic acid bacteria – the good bacteria! – can thrive.
Tip! Wash the base of the cabbage, and trim it to fit neatly within the neck of the jar, covering the surface. When you close the lid this will compress the cabbage underwater.
The fermentation process
It is hard to say precisely how long to leave kraut fermenting at room temperature. This depends on the temperature of your kitchen, and your personal preference in both texture and acidity. A shorter ferment (approximately 7 days) will yield milder and crunchier kraut, and a longer ferment (anywhere from 7-21 days) will yield a softer and tangier kraut. We recommend tasting the kraut every other day and observing the changes – it’s a fascinating process!
It’s important to keep the kraut somewhere with consistent temperature and out of direct sunlight. As the cabbage ferments it will give off carbon dioxide so it’s crucially important to ‘burp’ the jar each day to prevent too much pressure building up within the jar... It’s best to do this in the sink.
When you are happy with the flavour of your kraut, pop it in the fridge where it will last up to 6 months.
You can use white cabbage, red cabbage, or a combination for a beautiful pink kraut. Classic flavours include juniper berries and caraway, (just pop them in whole during the scrunching!). Fresh turmeric gives white kraut a beautiful golden hue and earthiness, a grated beetroot is another great addition, which turns the kraut pink and adds a touch of sweetness.