Curing your own cabbage results in delicious bright sauerkraut and a fresh tart flavor that’s far superior to the bagged version at your grocery store. It is so easy to do it’s well worth your while. The only caveat is that it’s a two-week fermentation, so plan ahead.
You can use any kind of cabbage, but ordinary green cabbage results in the deepest flavor and sturdy texture. After the cabbage is cured, the best way to serve the sauerkraut is braised in half pickling liquid and half chicken stock or water (use less or more stock or water to decrease or increase the acidity). Bring to a simmer in an ovenproof sauté pan on the stovetop then move it to a 300-degree F./150-degree C. oven for up to 30 minutes, until ready to serve. Add a bay leaf or other aromatic seasoning as you wish.
Yield: 1 quart/1 liter
17 cups/4 liters water
¼ cup pus 2 tablespoons/200 grams kosher salt
1 green cabbage, about 3 pounds/1.5 kilograms, thinly sliced or shredded
1. Combine the water and salt in a small pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and let cool, then chill.
2. Combine the cabbage and brine in nonreactive container. Cover the cabbage with a piece of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel, then weight the cabbage and cloth down with a plate, pressing the plate down so that the cabbage is completely submerged. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a cool place for 2 weeks (no hotter than 70 to 75 degrees F./21 to 23 degrees C., or no beneficial bacteria can begin to thrive.)
3. Drain the cabbage, reserving the brining liquid; the cabbage should have a pleasant sour-salty flavor and although its green color will have paled, it should still be crunchy. Strain the brining liquid into a pot and cover and refrigerate the cabbage. Bring the brining liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.
4. Pour enough of the cold brine over the sauerkraut to cover it completely; discard the extra brine. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.