Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sauerkraut recipe, and the Wakaba Bazaar!

Today’s coffee: East Timor and Ethiopia (because I wish Sharon were here, and that’s what she would drink)

Tomorrow is the Wakaba Bazaar! (Saturday, October 15 at 11 a.m. Please come, Sapporo area friends!)

Which means I will be busy this evening baking cookies and putting things in little bags. Keith will be busy eating the rejects. I’m also making Keith’s favorite cake (pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting) and sourdough walnut bread. I’ve made a couple batches of sauerkraut this year, so I decided to try selling a bit of that too. After all, naturally-fermented things and “slow food” are rather popular here in Hokkaido.

In honor of the bazaar (and at the request of a couple of friends), I’ve decided to write out my method of making sauerkraut. It’s easy, and good for you, too!

Sauerkraut recipe


  • Cabbage: plain old green cabbage is traditional, but lately I’ve added some red cabbage and nappa cabbage to the mix. Straight red cabbage sauerkraut is also nice. You want it to be fresh, or you won't get enough brine.
  • Optional: garlic cloves, apple slices or minced apple peel, shredded carrot, onion slices, peppercorns, etc. Be creative!
  • Salt: pickling salt or sea salt (not iodized), 2-3% of the weight of the cabbage and other optional vegetables. I use 3% in the summer, and less after the weather gets cold.
  • Caraway seeds (traditional, but optional)

Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. You can throw in the heart as is. Slice any other vegetables or herbs you want to add.

Weigh the vegetables, calculate how much salt you need, and weigh out the salt. In a large bowl, combine salt and vegetables and massage the salt into the vegetables. They should start releasing their juices. Pack everything into a jar or crock. (Make sure there’s no bits stuck to the sides of your crock, since those can get moldy. You want everything to go under the surface of the brine.) If I still have some kraut from a previous batch, I add a bit of the brine, which has live kraut-germs in it, to get the process going more quickly.

This batch has a blend of red and green cabbage with some carrot, just for fun!
Put a plate or… whatever the plastic thing in the picture is called in English… can’t remember… on top of your kraut to hold everything under the surface. Put pickle weights (twice the weight of your vegetables) on top of that if you have them, or you can use a plastic bag filled with saltwater or smaller jar filled with water. (Thankfully in Japan, we can get pickle weights in all different sizes at our local hardware store.)

Argh! Forgetting English...
Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag to keep fruit flies out. They love sauerkraut. I use a (new) shower cap. Those are perfect. Keep an eye on it; the brine should rise above the top of the vegetables within about 36 hours. At this point, you can reduce the weight somewhat--you just need to keep the vegetables under the surface.

Keep watching and waiting. Sauerkraut can take between about 6 days and a month, depending on how warm your kitchen is. When it starts bubbling (see photo), give it a taste. Bubbles mean that the microorganisms are busy!

When it is as sour as you like it, store it in the refrigerator or other cold place (we kept ours in the unheated entryway of our previous house) and be sure to share it with your friends! It keeps for a really long time--6 months or longer if you keep it cold.

That’s all! Easy, right? Japanese version coming soon!

Back to the subject of the bazaar, I still remember my first time to the Wakaba Bazaar, when I was a short-termer, back in 2009. I thought it was the best thing ever. Little did I know how involved I would be at Wakaba in the future! My first Wakaba Bazaar makes an appearance in this post. 懐かしい!

Here I am, waiting in line at the 2009 bazaar with friends and teachers from language school.


Joann and Dan said...

I made sauerkraut with a red cabbage a week ago, and a batch with a home grown savoy cabbage today. In transferring the red sauerkraut to another container, I tasted some and it is delicious - crispy and sweet. Mmmm...

Celia Olson said...

Yay! I just received another big cabbage, so I'll probably make another batch soon too.