Making sauerkraut is much easier than many people think, it is basically just a mixture of finely chopped or grated vegetables mixed with salt (1-2% of the total weight of chopped vegetables) and then left to ferment. The sugar is optional, it will ferment without it, but I think it makes for a nicer kraut by rounding out the flavours a bit. It’s always good to have some hard, crunchy vegetables in the mix as they keep a bit of texture as they ferment, which is why crunchy white cabbage is so good. I used a few purple carrots in the one pictured and the colour bled which is why I ended up with a lovely pink kraut (see photo on the far right). It will still be delicious without the purple carrots, but if you want the pink colour and can’t get purple carrots then replace 100g carrots with 100g grated beetroot.
This sauerkraut is perfect for autumn and winter as it uses apples, carrots and cabbage all which store well and are generally available locally (and cheaply) throughout the winter. I created this kraut combination for our Oktoberfest Supper Club, the menu had a German beer hall twist so sauerkraut was a must! The apples add a delicious fruitiness and the caraway add an aromatic aniseed note which, along with the sour cabbage, makes this perfect with any rich, fatty meat. We served it with beef boerwors sausages on the evening of the supper club. It is also delicious with pork or works equally well with a sharp cheddar or as a side salad with anything crispy or fried.
Do you make lots of ferments and sauerkraut? Or do they scare you? Let me know if you have a go making this one.
Makes 1 x 1 litre jar (or 2 x 500ml jar)
700g white cabbage (weighed once core removed and finely sliced), plus a few whole leaves to put on top of the kraut and keep everything under the water
300g carrots (weighed once peeled and grated)
300g apples (weighed once peeled, cored and grated)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
80g caster sugar
Remove any yellow or damaged outer leaves from the cabbage, slice it into long thin strips avoiding the core and put it in a large bowl.
Peel and grate the carrots and add them to the bowl with the cabbage.
Peel and core the apples and grate them roughly and add them to the other vegetables.
If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, you can use this this to chop all the veggies and save lots of time!
Lightly toast the caraway seeds in a dry frying pan, just for a minute or two until you can smell the caraway flavour. Add the caraway seeds to the cabbage, carrot and apple mix and use your hands to mix really well and soften everything.
Now add the sugar and salt and massage again really well. Pack the mixture tightly into a glass kilner jar, put a couple of cabbage leaves on top and then a weight to hold everything under the liquid. A large round stone from the beach scrubbed well works well. I also put my jar onto a high sided plastic tray or the bottom of a tupperware box as I find this combination emits a lot of water and it sometimes leaks out the top of the kilner jar. If there is too much liquid I just ladle a bit out and throw it away.
Leave the sauerkraut in a warm part of the house for three days to a week (how long depends on how warm the room is). Taste every couple of days, once it is ready it will taste a bit sour and all the flavours will have melded. It is then ready to eat. Opening the jar will also release any build up of gas so you are ‘burping’ the sauerkraut. You will sometimes hear a small ‘pop’ as you open the jar
You can then store it in the fridge or in a cool larder. The longer you keep it, the sourer it will get but it.
Beautiful photo of apples by Sharon Cosgrove Photography. Less beautiful photos by me!