FERMENTATION LENGTH: 1-4 weeks
Why do I love this recipe? It's a flavor-rich substitute for relish that is rich in probiotics and will aid in the digestion of whatever you are putting it on.
You don’t want to include the weight of your bowl (the tare) in your measurements, so either zero out the scale (usually done with a button on a digital scale or a knob under the tray on a mechanical scale) or write down the tare (bowl) weight.
Finely dice your onions and add them to your bowl on the scale.
With hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and the inner membrane. Vary the heat by how many seeds you leave in.
For both the sweet red pepper and jalapeno pepper cut off the stem and scrape out the inner membrane and seeds, but leaving in the seeds of the jalapeno pepper if you like a lot of heat in your ferments.
Finely dice the peppers and add them to your bowl.
Measure into your bowl: 1 tablespoon of paprika powder, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds.
Discard the dirty or limp outer leaves of your cabbage, setting aside one of the cleaner leaves for use during the SUBMERGE step.
Quarter, then slice cabbage crosswise into thin ribbons. I leave the core in, using it as part of my "handle" - but don't actually slice it - because I find it helps to hold the layers of cabbage together making the slicing job easier. See my post on ways to slice cabbage for some more tips.
Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of your vegetables and cabbage is 1¾ pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams).
Sprinkle vegetables and cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt and mix well.
Then, massage the vegetables with strong hands until moist, creating the brine. If you're worried about getting the hot oils from the jalapeno on your hands, use a spoon to mix and press the mixture to get your brine.
You should be able to tilt the bowl to the side and see a good-sized puddle of brine, about 2–3 inches in diameter. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Notice how the mixture shrinks. If you're having trouble getting enough brine, read the tips in my post on dry sauerkraut.
Grab handfuls of the salty, juicy cabbage mixture and pack them into your quart-sized (liter) wide-mouth canning jar, periodically pressing the mixture down tightly with your fist or a large spoon so that the brine rises above the top of the mixture and no air pockets remain.
To keep the outside of your jar clean, hold the jar over the bowl with a clean hand - usually your left - and then use your other hand for packing the sauerkraut.
Be sure to leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar. Because we weighed out just the right amount of cabbage to fit in your jar, this should happen automatically.
Pour any brine left in your mixing bowl into the jar and scrape out any loose bits stuck to the sides of the bowl or to the sides of your jar.
Take that cabbage leaf you saved during the SETUP step, tear it down to just fit in the jar, and place it on the surface of the packed cabbage. Forgot to save a cabbage leaf? No problem. You can fold a narrow piece of parchment paper to size or even cut an old plastic lid to size.
Place the 4-ounce jelly jar (or preferred weight) on top of the cabbage leaf, right side up with its lid removed.
Lightly (to allow for escape of CO2 gases), screw on the white plastic storage lid (or airlock of your choice, following manufacturer's directions).
I like to label my jars using green or blue painter’s tape and a permanent marker. I note the flavor of sauerkraut I made and the date I started fermenting.
Place your jar of fermenting sauerkraut in a shallow bowl (to catch the brine that may leak out during the first week of fermentation), out of direct sunlight. Wait for 1 week before opening to sample.
For what to expect while your batch of sauerkraut is fermenting see: SALTY Cabbage to SOUR Sauerkraut: Fermentation Signs to Monitor
You can ferment your sauerkraut for up to 4 weeks. The longer you ferment it, the greater the number and variety of beneficial bacteria that can be produced, though most studies show numbers peaking at 21 days. Many like to check their ferment at the one-week mark and then determine ideal fermentation length for their household. More in the post mentioned above.
Rinse off the outside of the jar. You can take the little jar out. Clean the rim if necessary (sometimes it can get sticky from the brine that overflows), and screw the lid back on tightly. Add to your label how long you fermented the contents.
Enjoy a forkful or two of your sauerkraut with your meals. It will continue to ferment – aging like a fine wine – but at a much slower rate than before. If the flavors are too intense, leave it the jar for a month or two and then eat it. You will be amazed at how the flavors have shifted. See 7 Easy Ways to Eat Sauerkraut for more ideas on how to enjoy your homemade jar of powerful probiotics.
If successfully fermented, your sauerkraut can be kept preserved in your refrigerator for up to a year... at least!