What’s in a Sauerkraut?
I confess that I’ve not had a lot of experience with Sauerkraut, even with a European background (from a few generations ago…). It was my Czech friend who started talking about it in her favorite dishes, and I was immediately intrigued! Other than cabbage, I didn’t know much else, and relied on my friends recommendation of adding Caraway seeds and Google.
Traditional Sauerkraut is simple – cabbage, caraway, salt and water, like this recipe from Epicurious.
Other than the obvious smokey / hot dog / sausage combo you hear about, I wondered – what else Sauerkraut can be used for? I came across a lotta ways to use it, but these were my FAVES:
- Add as a TACO Tuesday topping! (UM, Hello!!)
- Mix in with your Kale Caesar Salad (now I can’t live without it…)
- Use it to add POPS of color to your Charcuterie boards!
Once I had searched up some yummy ways to EAT Sauerkraut, I became obsessed with flavors. I skipped the simple, and went straight to it, Caraway Seeds in hand! I had read enough to understand ratios (800g of thin-sliced – mandolin – cabbage to 1Tbsp salt, using a max of 200g of your cabbage weight in flavors if desired), and then I just thought of how I might eat the Sauerkrauts and what flavors I would most enjoy.
Otherwise, a few TIPS, as I’ve understood them! >
- Slice all your ingredients as thin as possible – use a low-setting on the mandolin if you have one
- Stir in your 800g of cabbage and flavors with the 1Tbsp of Salt and let sit until liquids release
- Fill your jar with the Cabbage/salt, and add 1 pinch of salt/1 cup of water as needed to have enough liquid to rise to the top of the mason weight when added
- Cover with a gas-releasing lid, such as shown below (sold on Amazon)
- Release gasses once a day by moving the knob on the lid, leaving on the counter for the first 4 weeks. After that, cap normally (leaving weight in if preferred), and refrigerate for another 4 weeks.
Being a fairly Recipe-Free kinda gal, I winged it. Wung it? I did whatever flavors I felt in my gut (the yummiest part of my gut!), and so far all 3 were WINS! I rarely have time to write things down when I’m creating in the Kitchen, so I take quick shots of the ingredients I hope to use instead.
BUILDING Flavor Profiles
So, how DOES one build FLAVOR for something like Sauerkraut (or Kombucha, or any other recipe, really!)?
Start with a BASE. In this case, it’s clearly the cabbage. Cabbage is slightly bitter raw, but fairly mild once it’s ‘cooked’ with the salt, and easily takes on the flavors it combines with. So the focus becomes the main FLAVOR Base.
In one, I chose Beets – raw, they’re also slightly bitter but soften once treated with the salt brine. When I think of my favorite Beet dishes, I automatically turn towards fennel, garlic and onions. Craving a bit of kick once I started thinking of these combinations, I added Aleppo pepper which is a perfectly mild bit of kick that anyone eating it can appreciate.
For another, Dill Pickles was the main impetus so the flavor choices were pretty clear!
The third one I started thinking about what flavors I love on my Tacos LOL. Jalapenos, for sure. I happened to have some Tomatillos on hand – talk about perfect timing! The rest of the flavors came as easily as a Tomatillo Salsa.
And VOILA! Three variations on Sauerkraut. Fortunately I had pre-bought these amazing ‘gassing’ lids and some glass mason weights, then all I had to do was wait… And wait… Actually, I didn’t wait THAT long – I couldn’t resist! After just a few weeks I was digging in, and before they even fully ferment at 2 months I’ll probably have eaten them all LOL!
Do you eat a lot of Sauerkraut?
What are YOUR favorite flavors?!