Red cabbage sauerkraut is one of my favorite vegetable ferments – it’s super easy and very tasty.
Raw sauerkraut is a rich source of probiotics which is great for your immune system and gut health. This simple red cabbage sauerkraut is a great introduction into homemade fermented foods.
You can make sauerkraut in all kinds of containers from simple mason jars to old-fashioned ceramic fermenting crocks. I’ve used both but really like using pickl-it jars.
Pickl-It jars uses an airlock system that creates an anaerobic environment – meaning it removes oxygen from the container and also allows carbon dioxide and other gases to escape. I like the taste and texture that results in this kind of process. But use whatever works best for you. When I first started with fermentation I just used regular mason jars (see my first sauerkraut tutorial). I tried graduating to old-fashioned ceramic crocks but did have mold issues. Most people say surface mold is no big deal – you just scrape it off … but since I’m already sensitive to mold I prefer to just avoid it and have been happy using the pickl-it system. I also like making smaller batches at at time to have more variety.
Sandor Katz, fermentation expert, weighed in on the aerobic vs anaerobic fermentation controversy;
His conclusion: “I have made hundreds of batches of kraut in all sorts of vessels (most of them open crocks), and I have witnessed, consistently, that it doesn’t matter. Each vessel has advantages and disadvantages. No particular type of vessel is critical. People have been fermenting vegetables for millennia in crocks open and closed, in pits and trenches, in sealed and open vessels. It can be done many different ways. The only critical factor is that the vegetables be submerged under brine…The only difference air exposure or lack thereof makes is whether aerobic organisms like yeasts and molds can develop on the surface.”
Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut is a probiotic-rich and nutrient dense superfood. Don’t stress about what method you’re using and just do it!
How to Make Red Sauerkraut
Remove outer leaves from the red cabbage (reserve it for later use)
Cut the cabbage into quarters and thinly slice the cabbage or grate with a food processor or box grater. You can include the core if you like.
Place the shredded cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle with one tablespoon salt.
The salt will start to pull the water out of the cabbage – it also inhibits any bad bacteria from forming during the fermentation. Start massaging the salt into the cabbage with your hands. It will start to soften and release more juices creating its own brine.
Pour the cabbage with its juices into your fermenting container.
Press the cabbage down with your fist or a “kraut pounder” until its submerged in its own liquid. Use one of the reserved cabbage leaves to form a lid and keep the shredded cabbage submerged in liquid.
Cover your jar tightly and allow to ferment at room temperature for at least 3 days.
Homemade Red Sauerkraut
For a variation, mix the red cabbage with green cabbage. You can also add other vegetables to the mixture like grated carrots, seaweed, beets, herbs, and spices.
1 tablespoon sea salt
1. Peel the outer leaves from the cabbage (reserve one for later). Shred the cabbage with a knife, grater, or food processor.
2. Add shredded cabbage and salt to a large bowl.
3. “Knead” the cabbage until its juices are released.
4. Place cabbage and liquid into a wide mouth canning jar or fermenting vessel. Use your fist to pack in the cabbage tightly into the jar and allow its brine to *cover the cabbage.
5. Use reserved cabbage leaf to cover the cabbage and keep it submerged in its brine.
6. Close the jar and allow to ferment for 3 days or longer- less if your kitchen is warm, more if cold. Store in the refrigerator.
*Some older cabbages may not produce enough brine to keep its contents completely submerged. If that occurs, create your own salt water brine (1 teaspoon salt diluted in 1 cup water) and pour enough to cover the cabbage by one inch.