Russian Sauerkraut


When ever my mother in law comes to visit us and it is cabbage harvest time, she will spend two days with shredding, cutting and kneeling large amounts of cabbage, carrots and salt. She will fill our nice large clay pot and after ten days we have the most wonderful квашеная капуста (Russian sauerkraut). It is so delicious and fresh and juicy! This Russian type of  sauerkraut is different from the typical German sauerkraut: it needs much less fermentation time and is therefore not as soft but much crunchier, and it contains carrots which makes it a bit sweeter. This sauerkraut we eat mostly raw. With a splash of olive oil and maybe some finely chopped parsley and dill it is a delicious side dish on its own. Or we add a handful sauerkraut into our standard green mixed salad, or into our beloved vinaigrette. So, for most part of the winter we have a small bowl of sauerkraut almost daily on the dinner table providing us with fresh deliciousness and much needed vitamins in the dark and cold time of the year. And because this type of sauerkraut is so easy to make, I want to give you the recipe and want to encourage to try to make it yourself!

You need:

  • white cabbage (this is the usual outside a bit greenish round head of cabbage)
  • carrots
  • large grained salt
  • a large pot made from clay or a pot which is enameled inside. I would not use a stainless steel or other type of metal pot to avoid any reaction between the the developing acid and the metal.
  • a plate that just fits into the pot
  • gloves to protect your hands when kneeling the cabbage (the usual gloves which are used in food preparation or other clean rubber gloves).

Preparing the sauerkraut

  1. Remove the outer layer of leaves from the cabbage and put them aside. Cut the cabbage head into quarters and remove the stem. Shred the cabbage into fine slices. You can use a food processor or cut it by hand with a knife as my mother in law usually does it.
  2. Prepare your pot: clean it thoroughly and cover the bottom with half of the cabbage leaves which you set aside.
  3. Clean the carrots and grate them using the large wholes on your grater.
  4. Measure the ingredients:  for reach kg of cabbage you need  2 hands full of shredded carrots and 1 teblespoon of salt.
  5. Now mix cabbage, carrots and salt and knead everything together. Wear rubber gloves to protect you hands! This process needs some strength but is very important. The point here is that the cabbage and carrots start to generate a bit of juice through the salt and your squeezing. This sounds harder that it is. If you put a small portion of the mix into a small bowl and squeeze it a bit with your hands, you will quickly notice the appearance to the juice. Then put the squeezed mixture with the juice into the big pot and continue that way until your pot is full or your cabbage mixture is used up.
  6.  Cover your mixture with the rest of the large outer leaves from your cabbage which you put aside earlier. Put the plate on top and press it down with some weight. This can be a smaller pot filled with water, a clean stone or any other non-metal heavy wight. Cover it with a clean dish towel.Now comes the fermentation time.
  7. Every day at least once you have to remove the weight and plates and leaves and, using the long end of a wooden cooking spoon make some wholes into the mixture to release the developing (smelly!) gases.
  8. If the cabbage generates too much juice that threatens to overflow, remove the juice. This is a very healthy and delicious beverage! Some of it you might want to keep stored in the fridge to add to the cabbage later when there is space in the pot again after you have started to eat it.
  9. After about ten days the cabbage should be ready. Transfer your pot to a cool location – you can transfer your sauerkraut into smaller containers and store it in the fridge or, as we do it, put it into a protected corner of the balcony (as long as it is not too cold outside).


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