Sauerkraut is the perfect springtime fermentation project. We call this kraut “naked,” since it’s made with just cabbage and salt. There are no additional seasonings to allow for a pure fermented flavor. Top your barbecue favorites to pack a flavorful punch!
- Glass gallon jar with lid or ceramic crock with lid
- Zip-top bag or glass pint jars with lids
- 1 to 2 heads cabbage, preferably organic, well rinsed
- Mineral salt or sea salt, such as Redmond Real Salt or Celtic Fine Ground Sea Salt
- Remove and reserve a couple of layers of leaves from each cabbage head, being careful to keep them intact.
- Cut the cabbage into quarters, then cut out the core. Slice quarters thinly with a knife or mandoline.
- Using the built-in scale in your CHEF iQ Smart Cooker, weigh the cabbage in grams. You will need to know the weight of the shredded cabbage to determine how much salt to use. (Don’t forget to tare, or “zero,” the scale before you weigh.)
- The amount of salt you’ll need is 2% of the cabbage’s weight. To calculate that, multiply the gram weight of the cabbage by 0.02.
- With the cabbage still in the pot, tare your CHEF iQ scale and add enough salt to reach the calculated weight.
- With your hands (or with a tamper), rigorously press and mash the cabbage until the salt is fully incorporated. Liquid (a brine) will begin to appear almost immediately and will continue to increase for 5 to 10 minutes until there’s enough to cover the cabbage. If there’s not enough, close the Smart Cooker lid, let the cabbage sit for 10 minutes, and check again. You want enough brine to cover your cabbage because it needs an anaerobic environment to properly ferment.
- Transfer the cabbage and the brine to a glass gallon jar. Make sure the cabbage is submerged below the brine. (If there isn’t enough brine you can make some extra by combining 1/2 tbsp salt and 1 cup filtered water and adding until the cabbage is submerged.)
- Grab your reserved cabbage leaves and place them on top of the sliced cabbage. These leaves act as a first line of protection for your kraut (a primary follower in fermentation parlance).
- Place a something heavy (aka a secondary follower) on top of the cabbage leaves. This can either be a plate, a zip-top bag filled with water, or even a jar filled with water. You just need something to weigh down the cabbage and keep it submerged below the brine. (Do not use a metal can as the metal will react with the brine.)
- Put the lid loosely on the jar—you should be able to twist it off with just your thumb and index finger with no effort. The loose lid allows air to escape, which is what you want.
- Store the jar out of direct sunlight and at a constant temperature between 55˚F and 80˚F. (A basement is great.)
- Let ferment for anywhere between 4 and 14 days. If any mold forms on the top of your brine, don’t worry; simply remove it with a spoon. If some of your shredded cabbage was exposed outside of the brine, it will have gone bad, but you can just scoop out and discard that portion, reserving everything else below the brine.
- Begin tasting your kraut after the fourth day of fermenting. It should smell sour and taste slightly acidic and will become more sour with time. Once the kraut has fermented to your taste, transfer it to smaller glass or plastic food-safe containers or zip-top bags, and keep in the fridge for up to a year.