Fun fact, I’m from Russia! When I think of Russian cuisine, I think of gourmet pasteries and dumplings (perojunaye & pelimeni), dark rye bread (baradinsky xleb), potatoes, and CABBAGE. These were huge foods in Russia, particularly in the winter when fresh produce was scarce.
Although I wasn’t much of a fan of cabbage dishes growing up, since changing my eating habits I have realized the importance of fermented foods and drinks. In an attempt to get more fermented goods in my belly, I began to eat sauerkraut on a regular basis. Well, I quickly found out that sauerkraut is really expensive to regularly buy and a lot of the time, half the jar is just water.
When my mom came to visit me, she scolded me for wasting my money buying sauerkraut when it was so simple to make (Oh Russian parents!). Well, I was ready to learn and so I did! I put together a tutorial with pictures (and a video)… I promise, it really is simple – mom didn’t lie! It is even the same recipe that my grandmother in Russia uses to make her stash for the winter 🙂
Now, instead of paying $6-7 per jar, I can make about 3 jars for the price of 1 head of cabbage and carrots – plus, I know I am putting organic cabbage in there!
Grandma’s Russian Sauerkraut
- 1 medium head of cabbage
- about* 1 tsp coarse salt (I use kosher)
- 2-4 medium carrots (depending how much you want)
- Make sure you have a spacious, clean area and some large jars that you can fit your fist inside of. Also, have a dark cover, smaller jars that fit into the neck of the larger jars, and bowls that the large jars will sit inside of comfortably (that was a mouth full (keyboard full?) …see pictures below for reference)
- Begin by chopping the head of cabbage and shredding the carrot (you can use a hand shredder, fine chopper, or food processor for the carrot – I prefer by hand for cabbage)
- Spread the cabbage across your work space and top with the shredded carrots. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Do not add more than the 1 tsp at this stage.
- Time to get active! Pretend you are massaging the veggies. Do this until they begin releasing juice
- Once juices are releasing and the veggies are softer, taste the mixture. It should be a pleasantly salty. If it is not salty enough, you can add more salt – just make sure to do a small amount at a time. The amount may vary based on the size of the head of cabbage
- It is now time to stuff jars! Begin putting the mixture in one jar at a time (note the liquid on the counter that was released from the veggies)
- Once the jar begins to look full, push down on the mixture with your fist with a lot of strength
- Keep doing this until the jar is full. The more veggies you add, the more juice there will be
- Eventually, the veggies will be near the top and the juice will be to the rim. This is where you want it to be – don’t loose the juice!
- You will now want to put something heavy inside. I filled smaller bottles/jars with water and used those. You will also want to put the jar on top of a liner, as the fermentation will cause foaming and additional juices to be released. NOTE: make sure none of the veggies are exposed to air and it’s packed in tightly, as not doing those things can cause mold to grow.
- Cover your creation with a towel (or a pillow case like I did) and let it ferment for a few days. Depending on the temperature in your home, it can take 3 days or more. In the summertime, it took 3 days. Wintertime will be different.
- To see if it is complete, take off the cover, remove the bottle, get a clean fork, and taste it!
- Variation: you can also try adding garlic and/or dill and/or beets etc – make it yours! Mine kept really well until I finished eating it… about 4 or 5 months in the refrigerator. I’m sure it will keep longer though.
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