Historically, people made their sauerkraut in large batches after the first frost because a freeze makes cabbage sweeter and slightly more tender. The cabbage would be finely sliced, salted, packed into large crocks, and pressed until it released liquid. Then it would be allowed to ferment in a cool place. These days, most of us don’t have the space for large sauerkraut crocks—or the desire to eat it every single day of winter. However, for those of you who have a taste for homemade sauerkraut, this single-quart recipe is my favorite way to make it in small batches without any special equipment beyond a wide-mouthed 1-quart or 1-liter jar and a cool, dark corner.–Marisa McClellan
LC Small Batch Sauerkraut Note
Know how legendary bourbon houses offer small batches of prize vintages? We suspect that the same sorta thing could happen with this single-quart sauerkraut recipe—minus the charred oak barrels, natch. What do you think?
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 14 D
- Makes 1 quart
Special Equipment: Wide-mouthed 1-quart (or 1-liter) jar and a quarter pint jar (125 milliliters), both with tight-fitting lids
- 1 small (about 2 pounds or 910 grams) green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 1. Sterilize a wide-mouthed 1-quart (or 1-liter jar) and a quarter-pint (125 milliliters) jar.
- 2. Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core. Finely shred the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt on top. Using clean hands, knead in the salt, squeezing firmly to help release the liquid from the cabbage. This should take 3 to 4 minutes. When the volume of cabbage appears to have reduced by half, add the caraway seeds, if desired, and work them in.
- 3. Pack the salted cabbage and liquid into the sterilized 1-quart jar a little at a time, firmly pressing down each time before adding more (the entire 2 pounds cabbage should fit into the 1-quart jar, though you may have to pack it tightly).
- 4. Press the cabbage down firmly in the jar, so that liquid bubbles up over the surface of the jar. Fill the quarter-pint jar with clean water, put a lid on it, and fit it into the mouth of the larger jar. It will serve as a weight and help keep the cabbage below the liquid level. Place a clean cloth or thin towel over the top of the jars and secure it with a rubber band. Set the jars on a small plate or saucer to catch any runoff. Place the jars and plate in a cool spot out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. [Editor’s Note: Ideally, you want to ferment your sauerkraut someplace that’s between 60° and 70°F (16° and 22°C). If you keep your home below 60°F (16°C) during the winter months, it will still ferment, but it may take longer.] Make sure to check your sauerkraut every other day, lifting the small jar and skimming any scummy bloom that may have appeared. Press the small jar down if any cabbage has floated to the top of the liquid. Be forewarned, it will be a bit stinky. That’s normal.
- 5. After 2 weeks, taste the sauerkraut. If you like the flavor, ditch the small jar, cover the large jar with a lid, and place it in the refrigerator. If you want something a bit stronger, let it continue to ferment until the flavor pleases you. This will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to several days.
Recipe Testers Reviews
I love this single-quart sauerkraut recipe. It tastes fresh, remains slightly crunchy, and isn't as sour or acidic as what you buy in the store. I had a large head of cabbage, so I cut off 2 pounds worth and sliced it by hand, but a mandoline or food processor would work well for this, too. The 2 pounds cabbage miraculously fit into the quart jar when I packed it tight. After 2 weeks, though, only about 2/3 of the jar will be filled with your sauerkraut. I made this recipe in the late fall and stored it in my uninsulated garage. I didn't have a quart-size jar so I used a glass water bottle and it worked perfectly. I didn't really get much bloom and didn't have anything to remove. I tasted the sauerkraut after 2 weeks and liked the mild flavor, so I moved it to the refrigerator.