One of the easiest food processing techniques is also one of the most nutritionally beneficial. It’s like a magic trick to chop up a big globe of cabbage, put it in a bowl and massage it with sea salt. You will feel the moisture sweat out of the wilting pieces. Next place the cabbage and the juice in a 2 quart jar. Tamp it down, fill a ziplock bag with water and put it in the jar to weigh down the cabbage. Label the jar with the date, let it sit out of direct sunlight, but somewhere nearby so you can watch the action. Taste it in 4 days. It should be slightly sweet, not vinegary, a little crunchy, and a pale yellow rather than green. The process may take as long as 2 weeks. It’s ok to taste it as often as you like. When you are satisfied with the flavor, tamp it into small jars, pour the brine on top and store in the fridge for up to a year. That is the entire process.
If you feel like stepping it up a notch, replace half the regular sea salt with smoked sea salt like hickory from the Co-op’s bulk aisle. You will end up with a noticeable but not overwhelming smoky rich flavor that is really delicious with other vegetables, fish, chicken and pork.
A simple recipe for making your own kraut would be: 3 ½ pounds green cabbage, 1-1 ½ tablespoons sea salt, that’s it! For more detail or further inspiration check out local fermentista, Kirsten Shockey’s beautifully composed and detailed book, Fermented Vegetables. The book is available in the Wellness department.