I’ve been on a fermenting hiatus. I reached my fermentation/sprouting breaking point one day about a year ago when I was attempting to cook a meal that was becoming increasingly frustrating due to shrinking horizontal prep space. I stopped cold turkey. At the time, I had numerous projects underway including mead, wine, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, and half a dozen varieties of sprouts – most in 2 gallon buckets or 1 gallon carboys. I didn’t feel like I was gaining health in my endeavors, only losing control of my surroundings, in particular, my counter space. The balance had tipped from fun-with-fermenting to high-maintenance-chaotic-experimentation.
Now that I’ve been away form it, I find myself once again seeking to get back on track with a traditional and ancestral-esque style of eating and living. Wanting to keep my counters less cluttered (I live in a 750 sq. ft. home, so there isn’t much room elsewhere for these projects) I started thinking about reintroducing some ferments, but keeping them to a manageable one quart size. I also wanted to shift from doing some ferments in open containers (plate on top, submerged with brine, etc.) to closed containers. Voila! The Recap on a mason jar with an airlock was born. Who knew that a #6 rubber stopper would fit in the Recap hole? Genius.
Simple Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
- wide-mouth quart mason jar
- wide-mouth reCAP lid (we sell these at the Seaside Farmers Market & will soon be adding them to our online store)
- #6 rubber stopper (bung) – available at a home brew store and sometimes hardware stores
- an airlock – available at a home brew store and sometimes hardware stores
- one cabbage head – I used a savoy cabbage. Napa works great as does just regular ol’ cabbage.
- 1-3 tablespoons of sea salt – I used a Kosher sea salt
- a few sprigs of fresh dill – may substitute other herbs or go without
- several whole peppercorns – not necessary
Shred the cabbage with a processor or simply cut it into 1/4″ wide strips. Layer the cabbage in the mason jar and sprinkle with a little salt. Using a heavy glass, wooden muddler, or your fingers, press the cabbage down into the jar. Add the dill and peppercorns randomly in the layers. Repeat this process until the jar is full, leaving 1″ of head space at the top. Pressing the cabbage and the addition of salt releases the juices of the cabbage. The cabbage should eventually be submerged in its own brine. I usually come back and press it a few times through the course of the first few hours to help it along. If it doesn’t have enough of its own juice to cover the cabbage, top it off with a little filtered water. In this batch, I got a whole cabbage in the jar. It’s probably a little too compact, but that’s okay. We started nibbling on it within a few days.
Screw the lid on tight. Before making the sauerkraut, check to be sure that your reCAP and your mason jar are air tight. Put the airlock in the bung (I’m using a 3-piece airlock) and the bung in the reCAP hole. Make sure it’s all tight. Put water in the airlock. In a few hours, you should see the middle piece of the airlock start to push against the top of the airlock. That will indicate that your sauerkraut is starting to ferment and the set-up is indeed air tight. You can start eating your sauerkraut within a couple of days, though ideally, let it ferment for a few weeks before moving to cold storage.