- 1 medium head red cabbage (2-3 lbs), save one whole outer leaf aside
- 2 large beets (1-2 lbs)
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (Note: if you don’t like caraway, substitute mustard seeds)
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried dill
- 2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt (use ratio of 1 tsp sea salt to 1 lb vegetables)
- Place a mixing bowl on a kitchen scale and tare. Finely shred the cabbage and place in the mixing bowl. Dice the beets into small pieces and add to the cabbage.
- Add the caraway and dill to the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, using 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of vegetables used, which should be 1-2 tablespoons here, and mix well.
- Begin to crush the vegetables with your hands and “massage” it to begin releasing the water to create a brine. The action of crushing the cabbage releases the water from its cells; the water combines with the salt to create a brine that will ferment and preserve the cabbage. The cabbage should be softened and a good amount of brine should be present after massaging, which can take 5-10 minutes. If crushing becomes too tiresome on your arms, you can let it sit for a few hours to let the cabbage begin to soften instead.
- Transfer the mixture into glass jars or a fermentation crock by filling jars with the mixture and then, using a wooden dowel or spoon, tamp down the vegetables to pack them tightly into the jar. This pushes as much air as possible out of the jar and lets the brine rise above the vegetables. Repeat until all of the mixture is used, being careful not to overfill the jars to prevent overflow of the brine–fill to the jar’s shoulders, not to the very top of the jar. Place a reserved whole cabbage leaf on top of the kraut and press the cabbage firmly into the jar so the brine rises above it.
- Place a fermentation weight on top of the cabbage, ensuring that the vegetable mixture stays submerged in brine the whole time it ferments to prevent oxygen from getting in and mold from forming. Top the jar with a lid, being sure not to screw on too tightly.
- Place the jar(s) on a plate or sheet pan on the counter out of direct sunlight. Let sit for two weeks at room temperature to fully ferment (or up to 21 days if you prefer a stronger flavor), checking every few days for surface mold or for a shortage of brine. If brine doesn’t cover the vegetables during fermentation, use a clean hand to press the cabbage below the brine to keep it from spoiling and drying out, doing this every few days or as needed.
- After 2 weeks or when fermented to your liking, remove the weight and transfer to the refrigerator This will keep for up to 1 year in the fridge or root cellar if kept submerged in brine.
This recipe was provided by Laura Poe Mathes, RD. Laura’s practice involves functional, customized nutrition based on the principles of traditional diets. She specializes in digestive health solutions using nutrient dense foods and food-based supplementation. Additionally, Laura has a blog called Brine and Broth with real food recipes and articles on health and wellness. Laura is the leader of the Viroqua, WI Weston A. Price Chapter.