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Raw Caraway and Dill Sauerkraut

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Raw-Caraway-and-Dill-Sauerkraut1Culturing or fermenting foods is a way of easily preserving them and at the same time encouraging the growth of good bacteria (probiotics) which have numerous health benefits.  Cultured foods can make a huge difference in the way you digest, the way you feel and the overall health of your body.  If you are new to this whole idea or fermenting and are a bit intimidated… I hope to put your mind at ease.  Take a deep breath and give this recipe a try.  Sauerkraut is a great basic recipe, and who knows, you may end up loving the process so much that you get really creative with other fermenting recipes.

Here are the basics just you get an over-all picture in your head.  Place a fruit or vegetable, that you want to ferment in a jar/container.  Add some salt.  Side note: there are other “starters” that can be added but I find salt to be simple and easy.  Salt helps to release the water that is inside the cabbage, creating a self-brine. Salt also acts as a natural anti-microbial, helping to minimise the growth of the ‘bad’ bacteria. Fill the jar to within an inch of the top with water.  Then close the jar tightly with some sort of an air-lock system and leave out at room temperature for 2-10 days, depending how strong you want the flavor.  Once the process is completed keep it in the refrigerator.  I have read that the shelf life is anywhere from 2-12 months, depending on what produce is used.   And there you have it…  a safely preserved, probiotic rich, living food to use as a condiment, as a side dish ,to add to salsas, dips, smoothies…whatever!

The main thing to know is that  making fermented veggies is NOT an exact science.   If you are a serious recipe follower, you might need to let that go, relax, and jump right in!  Have fun.  The  time frame that it takes to ferment/culture can fluctuate depending on room temperature.  Every home kitchen varies in warmth, so some batches may ferment quicker than others.

There are many methods to making fermented veggies and over the years I have tested a few different methods.  My favorite way is using the  an air-lock system.  There are many different ones on the market.  You can purchase a complete unit containing a gallon jar, lid and air-lock system or you can just buy the air-lock tops that will fit any quart sized jar.  There are even some great DYI sites out there that show you have to make your own lids, step by step if you are handy in the shop. With this device I never second guess what is going on in my lovely jar of fermenting.  For more in depth reading I suggesting visiting Natural Cultured Health. 

These systems provide an air-tight seal, reduces mold on top of ferments,  release pressure/gas naturally.  They also work with any different size wide-mouth glass mason-type “canning” jar.  Another great feature is that your  fermented foods can be stored right in the same jar  so you don’t have to transfer it to another container.  And most importantly… Simple to use!  Wait, I have another “most importantly”…. with the air-tight seals that I listed below, you don’t smell your cabbage fermenting.  When I use to make it the old school way, I was always apologizing to visitors for the smell.

Here are a few different systems:

The Perfect Pickler ~ this system can be used on any wide mouth jar.

The Perfect Pickler XL ~ this system is the same as the one above but allows you to make 1 – 1 1/2 gallon batches.

Kraut Kaps 3 Pack – Platinum ~ this is my favorite and the one I use.

 

Raw-Caraway-and-Dill-Sauerkraut2Ingredients:

  • 1 large green cabbage head, very finely shredded
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill

Preparation:

  1. Cut the cabbage into manageable sized pieces for whatever method you are going to use to shred it.
  2. Shred the cabbage.  You can use a mandolin, knife or food processor. I used a food processor, fitted with the shredding blade.
  3. Put the shredded cabbage into a large bowl.  Sprinkle the salt  over the cabbage and massage it with your hands until the liquid starts to release.
  4. Let the cabbage rest for 10 minutes and massage it again.  Repeat as often as necessary until the cabbage is very juicy.
  5. Pack the mixture firmly into a large jar.
    • The cabbage MUST be below the water (brine) level, away from oxygen.  Leave about an inch of space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar.  This allows for expansion.  Do not leave too much room at the top of the jar as this will let there be too much oxygen and you have more chance of your ferment going bad.
    • This this also keeps the process ‘anaerobic’ (without oxygen) and helps to keep any molds, fungi, etc. from messing up the process.
  6. Place the lid and air-lock piece on top.  My air-lock system requires that you add water to the fill line of the device.  This prevents air from going out of the jar and stops airborne organisms from entering into the jar.
  7. Cover  with a clean dish towel.
  8. Allow the kraut to ferment in a cool, dark place for at least 3 days and up to 10 days, depending up the desired degree of sourness.  Fermenting will continue to take place in the refrigerator, but this will be very, very slow.  Flavors can change over time.   Things to watch for to know if your cabbage is ready:
    • Bubbles: Bubbles are produced from the lactic acid formation.  Sometimes, when you remove the lid, you can see these bubbles of gas bursting at the surface and you might also see these bubbles through the side of the jar.  So remember… bubbles are normal!  I don’t always see them though.
    • Smell:  There is a fine line between the smell of ‘fermented’- sour and ‘omg-this-batch-is-rotten’- sour.  You will learn the difference over time.
    • Taste:  Fermented foods will have a pleasant sour taste but will not taste rotten.   Remember you have the control to stop the process at any level of flavor that you want.  Slightly sour to “would-you-please-put-the-lid-back-on-that-jar, strong.
  9. If you discover a white film on the top of your fermented fruits/vegetables, that is fine.  Simply scrape away and toss that portion.
  10. Once the kraut is ready, store in sealed jars in the refrigerator for up to several months. 

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 Tuck away for 3-10 days, depending on how strong you like it.

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10 thoughts on “Raw Caraway and Dill Sauerkraut

  1. I love your recipes. I can’t wait to try one this weekend!

    • amie-sue says:

      Thank you Ines… please keep me posted how it goes and if you have any questions along the way, I will do my best to respond quickly to help you. Have a wonderful evening, amie sue

  2. Lynda says:

    I have been exploring fermenting and you make this seem fairly easy. I will give this a try.

    • amie-sue says:

      Hi Lynda, if it isn’t easy, I don’t do it. lol Life is complicated enough on its own, no need to make eating food complicated. :) If you have any questions through the process, don’t hesitate to ask. I try to answer quickly. Have a great day, amie sue

  3. ben says:

    Cabbage & caraway make for a great combination. Thanks, Amie-Sue. I’ve been incorporating more fermented foods in my diet. Just made Cabbage Kimchee, so I’ll try your recipe once we’ve finished the kimchee.

    • amie-sue says:

      They sure do Ben. I have yet to acquire the taste for kimchee but I keep trying it… one day! :) Good to hear from you as always. amie sue

      • ben says:

        Kimchee seems to get better the more you get used to eating it. If it’s too strong for you, limit or omit the garlic. Just use cabbage, chili pepper and ginger.

        • amie-sue says:

          Your right Ben… I think the problem in the past was that I had once OD’d on ginger and for years I couldn’t handle the taste of it. But now I am LOVING it again (funny how that happens)… so perhaps I would like Kimchee. Thank you for mentioning this, it has inspired me to give it another go. Have a happy Tuesday. amie sue

  4. Michele says:

    sounds great, but way is a air lock system needed? I remember open 5-10 gallon crocks in my Grand parents basement.

    • amie-sue says:

      There are many ways to make raw sauerkraut Michele. I use to make them with the open top system where you just covered the kraut with large cabbage leaves and put a weight on top. It is all with what people are comfortable with. I prefer this system so I thought I share it. I explained the reasons why in my post. Have a great day, amie sue

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