The very word used to make my nose wrinkle and my jaw clamp shut, lips sealed, and my little curly head shake an adamant “No!” at the dinner table. I watched my Granddad spoon it over his hotdog while I wondered what in the world was wrong with adults to make them eat things that smelled like that stuff did.
So, fast forward to last winter, and sit with me in my kitchen. I’d just been beginning to play around with fermenting foods and when you begin that learning process the first recipes that you see referenced in all of the cookbooks is sauerkraut. I felt my nose start to wrinkle up out of habit, but then I stopped myself – it had been a decade (or two) since I had tried sauerkraut. Maybe I shouldn’t assume I hate it anymore! My tastes have changed, and I even like beer…why not fermented cabbage?
I spent a bit of time with Fermentation on Wheels and the Fermenter’s Club last March and we all made one big batch o’kraut together and brought it home in jars. Tasting the fresh cabbage and seasonings going in was delicious, and so was the final product once it was done bubbling and fermenting.
Gone was the association of sauerkraut being sloppy, soggy, vinegary strings of cabbage, and in its place was a crunchy, salty, sour and probiotic-packed punch of flavor! I’ve even found myself adding it to miso soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as on sausages and corned beef.
Now that I’m fully on board with the magic that is sauerkraut, I’ve been having fun with it. Here’s a twist on the basic cabbage and salt recipe using apples and a daikon radish or two. The cabbage soaks up some of the sweet, tart flavors of the apples leaving a salty, sour, sweet fresh crunch that really rocks the palate!
Apple & Daikon Radish Sauerkraut
This recipe is for a one-quart batch but you can scale it upwards easily. As you can see in the picture, I used a kit from Fermentools and a wide-mouthed quart jar. You can shop their kits and salts and other fermenting supplies here.
- 1/2 head of green cabbage
- 1 pink lady apple (or any firm, flavorful apple)
- 2 small to medium daikon radishes (and some of the crisp green stems)
- 1 tablespoon Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoon Pickling Blend (recipe here!)
Start by getting a big mixing bowl and chop up your head of cabbage into relatively consistent thin strips.
Cut the unpeeled apples and radishes into julienne strips as well, trying to match somewhat to the size of cabbage strips. Add it to the bowl of cabbage.
Sprinkle the salt and pickling spice blend evenly over the veggies. Use your hands to massage and mix the salt and spices into the veggies, and then use a tamper to really pound it and mash them all together. The salt will begin to release the moisture from the veggies and so it makes its own brine.
Add the veggies into the jar by a handful at a time, tamp it down, add another handful and tamp, and so on until the jar was full. Place your weight on top of the veggies and press down hard with the tamper, pushing the brine to the surface and leaving all of the veggies submerged. On goes the lid, airlock, and the rest of the Fermentools kit (or your preferred method).
Next is the hard part…the waiting. For weeks. It could even take months with bigger batches!
How do you know when it sauerkraut is done? Just taste it!
Every week or so, I opened the sauerkraut and used a pair of chopsticks to pull up the glass weight and pull out a taste of the fermenting cabbage. Once the flavors and textures were all meshed and everything tasted good to me (one month for this batch), I took out the glass weight, put a normal lid on it, and put it in the fridge to enjoy for months!
- Survival At Home made their own sauerkraut with fermentools, too.
- Nourished Kitchen makes simple sauerkraut in a crock.
- Curtido, a Salvadorean style sauerkraut from Cedar Hill Chronicles
- Not sure what to do with Sauerkraut other than throwing it on hotdogs or sausages? Make this winter soup from Slovakia!
- A Return to Simplicity with old-fashioned sauerkraut