December of 2021, I shared my method for making fermented sauerkraut here at Hobby Farms. The basic recipe I shared is the groundwork for making any sauerkraut flavor combination your heart desires.
I find myself making small batches of various fermented foods each January. Maybe it’s because the holidays can be filled with such rich foods, sugary treats and spiked beverages. Or maybe it’s just because I want to kick off a new year with good intentions.
Whatever the reason, I do enjoy this tasty, healthy tradition and highly recommend the following recipe for beet sauerkraut.
Yield: 1-2 quart jars
- 1 head of green cabbage
- 1 small beet, end and greens trimmed, grated
- 2″ hunk of fresh ginger, skin removed, grated
- 1 to 1.5 tbsp. kosher salt
Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Wash the cabbage with cold water. Cut in half lengthwise, and remove the core from each half.
Shred the cabbage into thinly sliced shreds, about 1/8 inch thick. You can also use a mandolin or cabbage shredder for this step if you have one. Try to keep the shreds uniform in size so that they ferment evenly.
Collect shreds in a nonreactive bowl, such as glass, plastic or solid stainless steel. Grate beet and ginger and combine with the cabbage. Add in salt and mix well.
Use clean hands (nail polish and jewelry removed, or wear food-safe gloves) to mix the salt with the shredded produce, squeezing and mashing with your fists to tenderize the cabbage. You can also use a wooden tamping tool for this process, but be intentional about not over mashing the produce or it will turn into a mushy ferment.
Massage the cabbage mixture until you can pick up a fistful and squeeze liquid from your fist. Once liquid drains out, you can transfer the cabbage shreds into a clean quart jar. Leave 1 to 2 inches of headspace (room from the cabbage mixture to the rim of the jar). Use your fist or cabbage tamper to tightly fill the jar.
Pour in any excess liquid from the bowl in the jar(s) as well. This liquid is the brine that the beet sauerkraut will ferment in.
Once filled, there should be enough brine to cover the kraut shreds. If there is not enough liquid, check again in the morning. More often than not, there will be enough produced.
You will need some sort of weight to keep the cabbage pushed under the brine. Keeping the shreds submerged under the brine is the key to a successful ferment. There are weights specifically made to fit jars, but you can also get creative. (See below for alternative options.)
Wipe off the rim of the jar, add the canning jar lid, and tightly screw the ring on your beet sauerkraut.
This beet sauerkraut will ferment two to three weeks. The temperature in the space where you ferment will determine how long it takes. The warmer a room, the faster it will ferment.
Ideally, you will ferment between 60 to 75 degrees F (15-23 degrees C). Keep out of direct sunlight.
Burp the jar daily, especially at first when the ferment is very active. Unscrew the lid briefly and tighten it back on to allow any built-up gas to release. At least once per day, you’ll have to use a clean utensil to push down the weight and submerge the cabbage again. Scoop away any pieces of food floating on top of the brine to avoid mold.
Taste test the beet sauerkraut ferment after week two. If it still tastes of raw cabbage, allow it to ferment another week and taste again. Some people prefer a very sour and soft sauerkraut and therefore will ferment closer to the six week range.
Once fermentation is complete to your liking, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.
Fermentation does not stop once the ferment is transferred to the refrigerator. However, it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture will continue to change, therefore it’s best enjoyed within six months.
We enjoy this beet sauerkraut with many meals in our household. View it as a finished veggie side dish that can be added to a variety of meals. It’s not just for bratwursts and porkchops!
If you do not have a glass jar weight, you can improvise by using an easily removable small food-grade glass dish that fits inside the jar. Or, if you have a smaller glass canning jar that can fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting with, you can use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.
You may substitute fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt if you prefer. Consult a salt conversion chart.
Expect foam-like bubbling, at least in the first week of this ferment. It’s completely normal.
This recipe has been adapted from Can It & Ferment It (expanded 2020 edition) with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. For more sauerkraut recipes, check out WECK Small-Batch Preserving and WECK Home Preserving by Stephanie Thurow.