Dairy Free Sauerkraut You Can Make at Home
Until you taste fresh sauerkraut made at home, you’ll never know what you have been missing. Salty, lightly sour (in the best way possible), and full of rich probiotics!
Even though it is tender when fermented, it still has some body and crisp to it – especially if you follow the method in this tutorial. Not sure what fermenting is all about? I’ve got you covered! So let’s dive in!
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Sauerkraut only has 2 ingredients – no whey needed!
Cabbage, salt and time are all it takes to make sauerkraut. Some people like to use whey from cow’s milk but it isn’t at all necessary. I make dairy free sauerkraut all of the time. Most importantly, use high quality ingredients..
The cabbage should be very heavy and dense with nice, shiny leaves. That means the cabbage is fresh, full of moisture and will yield a lot of kraut. Buying organic is also important because it has more live enzymes and does not have the pesticides on it that kill off beneficial bacteria.
The second ingredient is salt. Salt is what keeps bad bacteria from growing and allows the beneficial bacteria to thrive. This is the mechanism that preserves the cabbage and prevents spoilage.
Just like the cabbage, using high quality ingredients will give the best results. Pink salt is full of minerals and what I prefer when I am fermenting. Redmond Real Salt is my favorite!
Do I need a crock, an airlock, or a mason jar?
Any of these vessels will work for fermenting but my all-time favorite is a hermetically sealed Fido jar. That is a fancy way for saying a jar with a glass lid and wire closure. I love the Fido brand because it is made with quality glass from Italy without any lead. They are sturdy and will last you a really long time!
The other thing I love about Fido jars, is that they make fermenting easy! You pack your jars, close the lid and then let the ingredients work their magic. Learning this technique took all of the scary out of fermenting for me.
Step 1: Shred the cabbage
Start by removing any damaged or bruised outer leaves. Then use a mandolin slicer to easily shred your cabbage. I have a little Oxo mandolin slicer that I have used for the last 8 years and it is a workhorse. A good knife and cutting board works great too!
Into a large bow cut the cabbage into 1/4″ ribbons. Keeping it all uniform will help it ferment at the same rate. That way you don’t have some that is half done and some that is soggy.
Then pick out any of the heavy white ribs from your shredded cabbage since they mess up the texture of the finished kraut.
Step 2: Weigh the shredded cabbage
Weighing the cabbage is important because that is how you determine how much salt you need. Too little salt and your cabbage will spoil, too much salt and your kraut will ferment slowly and be inedible. Don’t worry this isn’t hard!
Place a large bowl on a digital kitchen scale and press the ‘tare’ button to zero it out. Then add in the cabbage. I like using the 2 liter Fido jar so I need about 3 pounds of cabbage for that. It is easier to measure the shredded cabbage in batches than it is to find a large bowl that fits on my scale.
Step 3: Add salt
Once you have the total weight you can calculate the salt. You will need 6 grams, or 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of cabbage. So when I shred 3 pounds of cabbage I need 18 grams, or 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) of salt for the whole batch.
Now measure the salt, sprinkle all over the cabbage and gently stir. This is where you usually see people come in with a tamper and smash the cabbage. The thought behind this is that bruising the cabbage releases the juices and creates more brine.
While that is true, it also creates mushy sauerkraut. The salt is really all you need to pull the water from the cabbage – no tamping, mashing or beating necessary!
Keep gently stirring or massaging the cabbage with your hands until the cabbage is nice and shiny and there water is beginning to puddle at the bottom of the bowl.
Step 4: Pack Sauerkraut into the jar
Again, no tamping! It is important to pack the jar tightly so that there are no pockets of oxygen to cause spoilage, but we also don’t want to bruise and smash our cabbage.
To pack the jar I usually set it in the bowl my shredded cabbage is in, because this can get a bit messy. Scoop the shredded, salted cabbage into the jar a handful at a time and press it firmly with the back of your hand. At first you will think there is no way you can fit all of that cabbage in the jar and then you will start to wonder if you shredded enough.
The large opening on Fido jars is another thing I love about these jars! I open the lid and then remove the top portion altogether. It makes filling these jars a breeze!
Continue filling and packing the sauerkraut until the jar is full, leaving about 1″ of space at the top of the jar.
Close the lid – You’re done!
You will leave the jar on your counter for 4-12 weeks depending on your taste preference. We love the flavor at 4-6 weeks best!
Set the jar on a tray or inside of a bowl on the counter for the active fermentation stage (first 1-3 days) to catch any brine that is pushed out. Once it is done actively bubbling you can remove the bowl.
Then just forget about it for the next 4 weeks. That is when you can begin tasting it. It is ok to pop the lid open grab a small amount of kraut and then close the lid. When you like the flavor, then move it to the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process down.
If you like a nice, sour kraut then move your jar to cold storage (like a cool basement or cellar) after the active fermentation period. It will slowly ferment and keep up to 1 year in these conditions. Or leave on the counter for 12 weeks and then move to the fridge.
Congratulations! You created your own custom probiotics!
Sauerkraut has more strains and quantity of beneficial bacteria than the probiotics or yogurt you can buy from the grocery store. 1 Tablespoon a day is a great way to build up the beneficial bacteria in your gut!
If you are not used to eating sauerkraut then it might seem salty to you. We love mixing it with whatever food we have on our plate and leaving the salt off the table.