Dec 28, 2010

Sauerkraut - Hungarian Style in 6 Easy Steps

Sauerkraut Hungarian Style
A lot of nations make sauerkraut, however what makes this recipe traditionally Hungarian is the addition of Bay Leaves, Whole Peppercorns & Caraway Seeds.

You can make as much or as little Sauerkraut as you wish.

The rule of thumb is; 1 heaped Tablespoon of salt per head of cabbage.

I prefer to use a good sea salt without any additives.

You can make your Sauerkraut straight in a large glass jar, or if you're making more use a food grade plastic bucket.

Basic Ingredients:

1 Head of Cabbage

1 Tblsp Sea Salt

4 or 5 Bay Leaves
(I use fresh Bay Leaves from my garden but dry ones are perfectly good)

1 Tblsp Black Whole Peppercorns

1-2 Tblsp Caraway Seeds

Remember you can halve the recipe or multiply it, depending on how much Sauerkraut you want to make.

1. Prepare the Bucket:

Whilst Sauerkraut does not need a perfectly sterile environment such as jams and other pickles do, you do need to clean the bucket thoroughly.

Firstly wash the bucket out with soap & water. Then rub a good handful of Bicarbonate of Soda over all the surfaces and leave for about 5 minutes. This will alkalise the bucket, ridding excess bacteria and will also neutralise any residual odours. Wash the bucket out with clean water and dry with a clean tea towel.  It is now ready for use.

2. Slice the Cabbage:

Firstly, remove all the dark green outer leaves of the cabbage. Then, I normally cut it in half to make it easier to slice.

I like to use a mandolin to slice my cabbage as it is a lot quicker than using a knife. I have the mandolin set to a very fine shred.  If you don't have a mandolin, of course a sharp chef's knife is great too. Just make sure to shred the cabbage in long, fine, thin slices along the grain.

3. Measure out the salt & caraway seeds and place them into separate small bowls - it's easier to keep track of how much you've used.

4. Start layering the Cabbage:
Take a few large handfuls of sliced Cabbage, place in your bucket and press down slightly.

Sprinkle on some of the Salt, scatter a few Bay Leaves and sprinkle on some of the Caraway Seeds.

Repeat until you have used all the Cabbage, Salt, Bay Leaves & Caraway seeds.

5. Press down using your hands until the juice from the cabbage covers the whole lot. This salty brine is what will turn Cabbage to Sauerkraut, that is why it must cover the whole lot.

6. Lay a clean white tea towel on top of the Cabbage layers and then you will need to put a weight on top of that in order to keep the cabbage juice covering the whole lot so it doesn't dry out and can properly ferment.

I normally place either a plate or a flat stainless steel steamer which has holes in it on top of the tea towel as a base, and then place a large clean glass jar filled with water on it. Some people like to use a large clean rock or there are special wooden weights especially made to weight down sauerkraut. In any case, the point is to keep it properly weighted down.

Cover the whole bucket with another clean tea towel so bugs and other unwelcome visitors can't enter, and leave to ferment for 3 or 4 days. Check on it every day to make sure the liquid is covering the whole lot. Give it a little press down each day.

During this time you may see some "scum" or foam forming - it's ok this is a normal part of the fermentation process. After 3 or 4 days take some of the Sauerkraut out and try it. If it tastes sour it's done. If not, leave it for another few days.

Note: Don't let it overly sour at this stage as you have to remember it will continue to ferment in the fridge - after all it is a live product.

When your Sauerkraut is done to your liking, remove it from the bucket and place into clean large glass jars, pressing down so the liquid rises to the top and covers the Sauerkraut.

**For best results, keep it in the fridge.

Note: The maturation time will vary depending on where in the world you are located. In very cold climates it can take several weeks to ferment. I live in Queensland in Australia where it is subtropical and most of the year is warm. Here, my Sauerkraut is done in about 4 to 5 days.

The health benefits of Sauerkraut are truly awesome, just Google it to find recent studies.

I hope you enjoy my Sauerkraut recipe!

In case you're wanting more info check these out, the cabbage slicer is particularly useful for making Sauerkraut as it makes the job so much easier...

Cabbage Slicer:

Weston Cabbage Shredder    Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home: Creative Recipes for Lactic Fermented Food to Improve Your Health (Natural Health Guide)     The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market (Revised Edition)  

More Sauerkraut Recipes:

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