Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g.
To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage.
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar.
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release.
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth.
7.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
8. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds.
9..Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days.