What you need:
1 fresh cabbage (red are best*)
some salt (1-2 tsp)
a glass or wooden bowl
a pair or two of hands
a pinch of love
Cut the cabbage up, as thinly as possible
Put a handful or so of the cabbage in the bowl (wooden or glass, as a metal bowl will start some kind of strange chemical reaction with the kraut), sprinkling a few pinches of salt over the cabbage.
Get those hands in there, mashing and kneading the cabbage between your fingers. The goal is to squeeze juice out of the cabbage shreds, and should take about 10 minutes. (You can also let it sit for a bit after this to bring out more juice…)
It should start getting wet-ish and shiny, with juice trickling out when you squeeze a handful of the cabbage:
Keep adding the rest of the cabbage, a bit at a time. (This is where you add that bit of love, too.)
Pack the cabbage into a quart sized jar, pouring in all of the juice, and really packing it in as hard as you can, so that the juice fully covers the cabbage.
Leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the jar and the kraut. If the kraut hasn’t produced enough juice to cover itself completely, you can add a bit of salt to spring water and pour that over the kraut instead. (I’ve found that if the cabbage isn’t juicing, it’s probably too old, and usually will go bad/moldy/rancid during fermentation. But it sometimes works out ok to pour a bit of spring water with a pinch of salt over the top of the shredded cabbage after you pack it in the jar, with enough salt water to fully cover the cabbage completely while leaving about an inch of space from the top of the kraut to the top of the jar.)
Next, cover your baby with a lid, loosely screwed on.
Place the baby sauerkraut in a dark place, wrapped in a washcloth or towel ( just in case the glass breaks, which has never happened to me, but better safe than sorry). Depending on the warmth in the room, it could take 1 to 3 weeks before it’s ready. I’ve found that, while it’s usually edible within a week, the flavor is worth the three week wait.
Once you pop it open, it’s best to store it in the fridge, but you can check on it once in a while to see how it’s getting on. It’s best to leave it be until it starts to bubble when you pick it up, and takes on a gold-ish color (or turns more maroon if it’s a red cabbage). I tend to open it after the first week to do a taste test as well, but most people tell you not to mess with it. (The less contact it has with air, the better.) On the other hand, sometimes it does only take about a week to ferment, so as long as you use a clean utensil to stick into your kraut, and cover it up as quickly as possible, it should be fine:)
Experimenting with sauerkraut is a blast! You can add carrots, kale, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, fennel, caraway, spices, onion, and a ton more… Caraway and dill add really nice touches, as does the love:)
*A note on cabbage differences I’ve found: red cabbage is less finicky than green and holds its crispness better. Most of the problemas I’ve had have been with green sauerkrauts, and the reds seem to have better luck and taste better (and are prettier). Maybe the answer is to not bother with trying to juice green cabbage, but just put salt water over the chopped cabbage and leave it at that.
This time, I worked with what I had, and it finished quite nicely! It took two weeks to ferment, and by the end, some hairy-looking tendrils were starting to have a little dance party on top of the kraut, so I decided its time was up. I skimmed off the little hairy things and threw the sauerkraut in the fridge. The sauerkraut tastes delicious, so no worries about the strange hairy dance going on:)
And here’s the finished sauerkraut: