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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sauerkraut with Apples, Fennel and Onions

Sauerkraut is so easy! I had to screw up my courage for a long time before I risked making my first batch. This is only my second batch (it takes a long time eat up 2 cabbages) and it is even more delicious than my first.

The idea for this flavor combination came from my friend Marina. Her dad is Persian and her mom Russian. She said that her mom used to make sauerkraut with cabbage, onions and apples. I thought that sounded great and threw in a fennel bulb that was in the fridge. This ends up hitting salty, sour, sweet and umami flavors - Yum!

Because I didn't grow up with sauerkraut, except on the occasional hot dog, I wasn't quite sure how to serve it. I am delighted to say that it is easy to eat in lots of ways! I don't heat it, because I want the probiotic boost. It has become an easy default side dish. Also, I love this in my sandwiches! It's like a good crunchy pickle! It is a pickle, actually, of the sour fermenty kind.

I used this large glass pickle jar for my first batch of sauerkraut. It got the job done, but made it more difficult than necessary.

It was easy enough to stuff the salt massaged cabbage into the jar, but the opening made it hard to get things weighted down and covered with liquid. I used some of the larger cabbage leaves in place of a plate and weighted them down with a clean jar full of water. Like I said, the end product tasted great, but this required a lot more watching as the leaves kept curling up and needed to be pushed down over and over.

So, I invested in this large, food-grade plastic container. It's easy to tamp down the kraut, monitor and clean up. This picture shows that this recipe makes about 2 quarts.

Once the kraut is pushed down and compacted, a saucer is the perfect size to hold everything down.

 In this container, I am able to use a larger, heavier jar to weight things down.

 It just needs a larger cover. Cheese cloth is perfect!

This is a yummy, if predominately yellow, supper - brats and onions, mashed potatoes, saute'ed veg and sauerkraut. Yum!

Sauerkraut with Apples, Fennel and Onions
2 small green cabbages
1 fennel bulb
1/2 sweet yellow onion
2 Fuji apples
About 2 tbsp. salt

Wash, core and peel the veggies and apple. Slice very thin. Add everything to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. salt. With very clean hands, massage the salt into the mixture until it starts to release some liquid. Give it a taste and add more salt, a little at a time, until it tastes good to you. Massage some more. Transfer to a very clean fermenting container and press down thoroughly. The juice should rise each time you press it down. Place a very clean saucer or small plate on top of the mixture and press down very hard so that the liquid comes up over all. Fill a very clean jar with water and cover with a lid. Place the full jar on top of the saucer to weigh down the veggies and try to keep them covered with their own liquid and not exposed to air. Cover lightly with a loosely woven cloth. Stir, taste and mash back down daily until the desired sourness is reached. My first batch was made in Winter and took about a week. This Summer batch was ready in three days due the warm temperatures. When the taste is to your liking, move to storage containers and keep in the refrigerator. This will keep for several months if you are careful to prevent cross contamination.

Makes 2 quarts


  1. Have you ever tried making kraut in a Ziplock bag instead of a hard container? I did it last year for the first time and I'll not do it any other way now. The bag keeps the cabbage out of contact with air and it's so much simpler, cleaner and surer. I put the bag on a shelf in the pantry, burp it occasionally, but that's it.

    1. Thanks Gin! I haven't tried that. That may be just the thing for smaller, and in my case, experimental, batches.

  2. Wildly unhealthy to ferment in a plastic bag!

    1. Can you give me a source for that?

    2. Here is something I found from the cooperative extension of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. There is a dialogue box that addresses this issue. I generally avoid plastic or look for products that are identfied as safe for food. However, I am not a scientist and, as the internet shows us, new information is revealed all the time. The problems with plastic are related to long-term exposures to chemicals, especially estrogenic chemicals. If handled properly, the risk of food-bourne pathogens, such as harmful molds and bacteria, is very low whether using food grade plastic, glass or crockery.

    3. Thanks for the link. While the article didn't specifically address fermenting in food grade plastic bags, it did make the following recommendation: "One of the easiest and best ways to keep air out of the fermenting cabbage is to place a brine-filled plastic bag on top of the cabbage." I think there would be little or no difference between doing this and actually fermenting in the plastic bag. The food comes into contact with the bag either way.