If you find yourself growing both cabbage and cucumbers at the same time, this is a great way to have the “best of both worlds” in terms of classic fermented recipes.
One very cool thing about this ferment is to watch the cucumber pieces turn into pickles while immersed in the fermenting cabbage, rather than brine! I noticed that (unlike when you are making brined pickles), any fresh cucumber variety works well.
If you don’t have access to fresh cukes, this dish is still perfectly delicious.
- 5-6 lbs./2.5 kg red or green cabbage (about 1 large or 2 medium heads)
- 3 Tablespoons/45 mL sea salt
- 2 6-inch cucumbers or 1 12" cucumber (any style)
- 5-6 sprigs fresh dill
- 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled
- Clean vegetables to wash dirt off. Remove any dark green tough outer leaves from cabbage and compost or use for another purpose.
- Slice a cabbage head in half lengthwise, so that stem keeps each half together. Shred each half into ¼” ribbons using v-slicer, mandoline, or chef’s knife.
- Add shredded cabbage to a large mixing bowl. Brine will form as salt draws water from cabbage.
- Finely dice or run garlic cloves over a microplane. Add to bowl.
- Finely chop dill sprigs. Add to bowl.
- Squeeze or pound the mixture with clean hands or a kraut pounder for about 5 minutes to break more cell walls and encourage more water to come out of vegetables.
- Cut cucumber(s) into quarters lengthwise, then into ½" (1cm) chunks. Add last after you've mashed up the cabbage (so you don't mash up the delicate cukes).
- Add mixture to a glass jar(s) or a ceramic crock (food-grade plastic containers are also acceptable.) Make sure to get every last drop of brine that has formed in bowl!
- Pack down contents so that surface is even and flat.
- If using a crock, place an inverted plate that fits inside the diameter. If using jars, add a weight such as a glass bottle filled with water, or even a zip top bag filled with water. Or use small-batch fermentation weights and lids to secure the jar(s).
- There should be enough brine to completely cover the contents when weighed down.
- If not using fermentation tools, cover container with a dish towel or tea towel to keep out flies and dust. Secure with a rubber band, twist ties or elastic strap. Stash it in a cool, dark place– a cellar, under the stairs, or under the sink in the kitchen.
- Check on it every few days. Mold may form on the surface. Remove weight and lid, and wash them with warm soapy water. Scoop out any surface mold, getting as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all. Then stir the contents and re-pack the surface. Any residual mold will quickly be killed in the acidic environment of the brine. The contents are safe under the brine.
- Cabbage will start to ferment within a few days. It’s up to you how long you want to keep it fermenting. Fermentation time varies with the seasons and the climate.
- When taste and texture are to your liking, move to the refrigerator (aka "fermentation pause button"). Sauerkraut will last in the refrigerator several months.
Sauerkraut, like all fermented vegetables, should be enjoyed like a condiment. Eat a little before each meal, and eat it often!