One of the easiest ways to begin cooking from-scratch fermented foods is to make your own sauerkraut! Here is my easy sauerkraut recipe for kids and beginners with a fun twist of cracked black peppercorn to make it extra flavourful!
Why should you make sauerkraut with your kids?
Many people have hopped on the fermented foods and drinks bandwagon at this point in the game. Have you been interested in this traditional cooking trend? Making this recipe with your kids is a great way to help them get interested in eating fermented foods. They can also learn a lot about gut health!
Sauerkraut: A simple food to fix your gut
Are you ready for some simple, old-fashioned food prep? Sauerkraut uses an ancient food preservation technique – fermentation.
Simple ingredients. A little chopping and massaging. A little patient waiting for good bacteria to do its work. And voila! A tasty, healthy condiment for your sausage or salad.
It’s also a kitchen science lesson for homeschoolers! This ancient food preservation technique uses lactic acid fermentation. You put good bacteria to work and deprive bad bacteria of oxygen. The good bacteria digest the sugars in the cabbage, turning it into sauerkraut. It becomes a great probiotic that helps to keep your gut healthy.
A Recipe for total Beginners or Even Kids
If you are a total beginner to fermented foods, don’t be scared!
I recall back in 2013 when I made my first ever batch of sauerkraut in our rental townhome in the suburbs. I read so many blog posts on the topic before I was brave enough to try it, and I was petrified I was going to poison my family!
If you are feeling a little bit like I was, take a deep breath. Our ancestors preserved foods for generations before the refrigerator. We are meant to eat this way. You will pick up on it quickly.
The nervous new mom I used to be quickly turned into a fermented foods evangelist and now I love to help others start on their fermenting journey!
And remember: I wrote this sauerkraut recipe for kids. It really is as simple as it seems.
What do you need to make sauerkraut?
You only need a few common kitchen items:
- large knife
- cutting board
- large mixing bowl
- large glass jar with plastic lid
- optional clean stone or fermenting weight
What is lacto-fermentation?
Lacto-fermentation is an ancient form of food preservation that turns foods into amazing probiotic substances and allows our bodies to access even more nutrients. Lacto is short for lactobacillus, a super common beneficial bacteria (actually a group of them) that is found naturally on foods and other surfaces. For more info on this cool process, check out this article.
- 1 Head of Cabbage
- Select a fresh, preferably organic green or purple cabbage. Purple cabbage may stain and can be a bit less juicy than green, but the colour is fantastic and it tastes really yummy.
- 1-2 tablespoons of high quality salt (I use Redmond Sea Salt)
- 1-2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- Wash the cabbage and peel away the outer leaves. Set aside one outer leaf for later.
- Slice and core your cabbage.
- Finely dice your cabbage and place it in a large bowl.
- Liberally sprinkle with high quality sea salt. I like to use Redmond. Add your black pepper to taste.
- Let your mixture sit for about 15 minutes.
- Now you need to stir and squeeze your cabbage until the juices are being drawn out. These juices are called the brine.
- Finally, press all the cabbage into a large jar. I like to use tall glass pasta jars with plastic lids from the Dollar Store. Just be sure to press all the air pockets out as you go. It is essential that your cabbage is in an anaerobic environment, so don’t skip this step!
- Top your cabbage with one of the outer leaves that you set aside earlier, making sure all the cabbage is submerged in the brine.
- Place a clean stone or fermenting weight atop the leaf. If your brine does not cover your top leaf and weight, add a saltwater solution until it does. You can easily make this with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of filtered water.
- Put the plastic lid on the jar and place on your counter, out of direct sunlight. It is best to ferment in a slightly colder room, so if your kitchen is warmer than 20C, you may want to find a cooler place (between 18-20C).
- Every day, check your cabbage. Make sure it is still submerged in the brine. You may see bubbles, and that is good! It means the fermentation process is beginning.
- After a couple days, do a taste test! I like to do a 5-day ferment, but some people prefer up to 4 weeks.
- When your sauerkraut tastes tangy and good to you, place it into the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process.
Consume within 3-4 months for best flavour.