Saturday, September 15, 2012


Last night we went to a German dinner and it reminded me that I have yet to post how I make sauerkraut, Texan style. So, here we go!

Here's the ingredients:

Well, this ain't all the ingredients - missing the crushed red chili peppers!
First some comments on the salt. The key is to use non-iodized salt. You do not want iodine in it - it will add a metallic taste. Now what is shown is the finest grade of salt. I have also used kosher salt and sea salt and find that the finer grain works just fine.

How much of each? Well for two small heads of cabbage (that will be about 5 pounds or so), use 3 tablespoons of salt.

What about the others? That is up to you. I add mustard seed, juniper berries, caraway seeds and crushed red chili peppers.

For the juniper berries and the mustard seed, it is best to at least bruise the berries and then crush the mustard seed.

Here they are before:
Now, one way of bruising or crushing, if you do not have a mortar and pedestal, is to crush/bruise them by rocking a sauce pan over them:

Then, combine all these spices into a bowl together:

Take a couple of the leaves off the cabbage and reserve for later. Then, chop the rest cabbage into quarters so that it will fit in a food processor grater. 

Run the quarters of the cabbage through the food processor and place in extremely large bowl. Sprinkle the spices on the cabbage in the extremely large bowl as you go along.
The extremely large bowl full of grated cabbage and sprinkled with spices looks like:
Now comes the fun part! Start kneading the cabbage to break down the cellular structure of the cabbage. This can take 10 to 15 minutes, or longer. The volume of cabbage will decrease dramatically and water will start breaking free from the cabbage. At the end of the kneading process, it will look like:

Now, pack it tightly into the crock, as tightly as possible:
Pour the liquid from the bowl into the crock. The shredded cabbage needs to be covered by about an inch of liquid. Then, take the reserved cabbage leaves and cover the shredded cabbage, working the leaves down so that there is liquid on top of the leaves. Here is a picture during the process. At the end of it, the liquid will be completely covering the leaves. 

Now weight needs to be put on it all. My crock is sized so that I can use a tart dish set on top of the shredded cabbage and then use a quart jar filled with water as the weight.
Notice that the liquid comes all the way up and has actually spilled over into the tart dish.

Now cover the crock with a dish towel and leave it on the counter.

In 4 - 6 (or more) weeks, it is ready. Start tasting it after 3 weeks and decide how you like it (taste, texture, etc.) Then, place it in jars and pop it into the refrigerator. 

There is no need to sterilize the jar. The bacteria will remain active, even in the refrigerator, and the sauerkraut will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, just at a slower rate.

I try to always have a crock going so I have a continuous supply!

The crushed red chili peppers do give it a kick! They also help to break down the cellular structure and provides for a smoother texture of the kraut.


  1. 2.25 to 2.5% salt needed. 3 Tb level of Mortons Kosher is 1.9% - 1 Tb table = about 1.5 Morton kosher = about 2 Diamond kosher = sea and pickling salts all over the board, so easier to weigh it!

  2. Thanks, Al! Learned somethin' there!