This is a totally delicious Eastern European sauerkraut. Also known as “kvashenayo Kapusta” – if you search for this online, you will find lots of beautiful fermented cabbage recipes. It’s quite different to other varieties like the ones that are made in Germany and Austria, in the sense that this recipe is crunchier, and less tart. My mum loves to add cranberries to it or like in this case – apple. The apple is something just next level. I love eating the apples so much that I think next time I should add more apples to when I make sauerkraut! Also common is to add flavours like dill, fennel and other seeds. I posted my original sauerkraut recipe which you can find here (thats one that i documented for a client of mine), and this one is very similar apart from some details. If you would like to read more about the background of sauerkraut do have a read of my original link!
Anyway, I hope you love this version as much as i do! It’s really addictive. Traditionally, old sauerkraut is used for cooking but the young sauerkraut is never used for cooking, as that destroys all the benefits of the fermentation.
Tips for making really good sauerkraut
- Everything begins with the quality of the cabbage. It should be super fresh, crunchy and full of natural water inside the leaves! This will create the delicious salty brine when mixed with the salt. When you select your cabbage, buy one thats whole. Ask the staff at the farmers market or in store for any cabbages ‘out the back’ or in the storage boxes – I always ask for the cabbages that are whole, with as many of the leaves on as possible.
- Make a good brine. In the steps below I explain how to make a good fresh brine for the fermentation of the cabbage mix. To make a good brine, you just need 10 minutes or so of quality massage and crushing the shredded cabbage with salt.
- When you’re fermenting the cabbage in the salty brine – keep everything under the brine. This helps everything safe, preserved and covered in the salty liquid.
- Have a clean working space, and use clean utensils and bowl etc
- Use a kitchen towel and other material that is breathable and that will let air pass through once covered and wrapped up (I explain more of when this is used below).
Recipe for Sauerkraut/Kvashenaya Kapusta
Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 large jars
Ready after 4-5 days (depending on the season and how hot or cold it is)
1 x green apple (add a bit more if you wish)
1 x whole large white cabbage
2 x carrots
50g salt (I used salt flakes, you can also use himalayan or a fine salt)
Note: If your cabbage is small – add a bit less salt i.e 40g of salt (you can always add more later if it needs extra seasoning)
- Clean and dry a large work surface such as a kitchen bench.
- Rinse and dry the cabbage then peel off the first few leaves of the cabbage and set aside a few of the leaves. Cut the whole cabbage into quarters, or even into smaller pieces so that it’s comfortable for you to hold and grip it. Shred the cabbage using a mandolin or a sharp knife. I recommend shredding rather than grating the cabbage as the shredded cabbage keeps a crunchy structure – but you can grate the cabbage as a last option. Once you get to the stem of each piece, slice very finely with a knife or discard into the compost (if the cabbage is young and the stem is easily sliced then you can use it to add into the cabbage mix, otherwise I would discard it, especially when the cabbage is really mature and the stem is tough). If you like, you can place all the shredded cabbage temporarily into a large bowl.
- Grate the carrot coarsely and add it to the bowl of shredded cabbage. Add the salt and mix through well.
- Transfer the entire mixture onto a clean kitchen bench or surface. Begin to crush and massage the cabbage and salt mix, crush it together to release the first juices. It will begin to decrease in size. Do this for approximately 10 minutes. Do not discard of any of the juices as this will be the brine that you ferment the cabbage mix in.
- On the side, slice the apple into thin wedges (discard the core and seeds) and place them into the cabbage mix – tossing them through.
- Place the cabbage mix along with the juices into a large bowl that you will be letting it ferment in for the next few days (glass, ceramic, stainless steel are all suitable).
- Push the mixture down with your hands, press it down heavily so that the juices rise and cover the top. Top the edges of the cabbage mix in the bowl with the extra few leaves of cabbage (tear them into smaller pieces) and then place a plate over the top. Place a heavy element on top to weigh the plate and cabbage mix down (You can use a glass jar filled with water as a heavy element). You should see some juices coming out in the edges. Push down further to get more of the brine rising to the top surface. This will ensure the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. Cover with a light kitchen cloth and tie on the side, ensuring that nothing can enter. Set aside to ferment for 3 days.
- 3 days later, remove the plate, the weight and the cloth and mix through well using clean hands or 2 wooden spoons. Let the sauerkraut breathe openly in the bowl for 1 hour. Cover it back and repeat the whole process of pressing down the cabbage, weigh it with a plate, a jar filled with water and a cloth tied around the bowl. Let it stand for another 1-2 days (depends if its summer or winter), taste it to make sure there is no bitterness.
- After approximately a total of 4 or 5 days, transfer the sauerkraut into sterilised jars. Push the sauerkraut down and cover with a whole cabbage leaf from the fermentation process above. Make sure to also mix the sauerkraut through the liquid and use a spoon to add this liquid to the jars, do not discard it as it has unparalleled health benefits. If you do have a lot of the sauerkraut juice, just place it into a separate jar and use it in salad dressings.
- Seal the jars with a lid and place into the fridge. Store in the fridge and eat as you like, the sauerkraut will continue fermenting in the fridge however at a much slower rate. The more time passes the more aged the sauerkraut becomes and the texture and flavours change. Eat as you like through the different stages!
Let me know if you have any questions and need any more guidance through messaging me on instagram!