Keep everything clean! If a piece falls onto the counter just leave it - don't add it to your kraut. If you are using root vegetables like carrots or beets, cut off the area around the top where dirt and mold can collect and rinse the bottom part thoroughly before preparing it for your kraut.
You can add other veggies - I usually add carrots or red / purple cabbage. I also make krauts that are almost all carrot with a little white cabbage added. I think white cabbage has a certain bacterial profile that makes the kraut better.
When adding veggies - the main rule is to keep all the pieces about the same size, so they all ferment evenly.
Then pound or mash the cabbage (and other veggies if you added) and salt. I usually do it for about 5 minutes then let it rest and seep and then mix and pound again. You want the cabbage to start getting soft and to release as much water as possible.
How I make Sauerkraut:
Use organic vegetables - they are better balanced with natural bacteria.
Wash a white or green cabbage (best to use your own home grown as they will be much more watery, but you can always add some water to the store-bought cabbages)
Either finely shred or run cabbage through a shredder on a food processor. Put into a large bowl.
Then add about 2-3 tbsp of sea salt (do not use grocery store salt that has anti-clumping and iodine) for every 4 cups of cabbage.
Cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables to keep in your regular diet. It prevents cancer and does a million other very important things as well - your body will know what to do with it!
Combine cabbage with Lacto-Fermenting and you have a major super food. Lacto-fermented foods provide the digestive system (gut) with a diverse amount of micro-flora and fauna. Eating foods like sauerkraut is similar to taking a probiotic pill or eating cultured yogurt. But kraut is more diverse!
The role of gut health in preventing disease and in psychological well-being will soon be made widely apparent.
Once the cabbage is soft and watery, you can add some spices. My favorites are black pepper corns, garlic cloves, coriander seeds, dill seeds, a dash of chili flakes.
Then simply spoon your cabbage mix into clean mason jars. I recommend washing them even if they are new.
Press down the cabbage into the jars so the air is forced out and the liquid comes to the top. Fill jars leaving 1.5 inches of space from top. If there is not enough liquid, add some extra spring or well water. You want the vegetables to be submerged. But be sure there is the 1/5 inch space from the top of the jar.
Here are some recipes:
Very Traditional Plain Sauerkraut:
½ White (Green) Cabbage
2 tbsp caraway seeds
Shred cabbage and carrot, add about 3-4 tbsp of salt, and pound ten minutes until nice and watery.
Add caraway seeds. Mix together and then scoop into a wide mouth quart size mason jar, mash down so no air bubbles. If liquid doesn’t cover to about 1-1/2 inch from lip of jar, add water.
Leave jar on counter at room temperature. Keep it out of the sun or close to the stove. You don't want big temperature fluctuations.
Smell and start tasting your kraut after a couple days - it should taste lightly vinegar-pickled. I taste my kraut every couple days, and when I like the strength of the pickle flavor, I take the air-stop top off, close up the jar with a regular lid, and pop it into the fridge.
If you use purple carrots, you can watch the acidity build as the carrots change of a dark blue-gray purple to a bright magenta color.
We try to eat a couple spoonfuls of a different kraut every day. It keeps your gut environment and micro-herd functioning optimally, which makes the whole body and mind function perfectly.
I have been using an air stop method - here's a link to a site that sells a kit:
I use the Pickle Pro Air Stop sold by: https://www.homesteadersupply.com/
I really love using the air stop - it makes lacto-fermenting easy, safe, and delicious the whole time it is fermenting.
Coriander and Purple Carrot Kraut:
½ White (Green) Cabbage
bunch of purple carrots (could be any colors)
5-10 whole cloves of garlic
2 tbsp coriander berries
1 tbsp black pepper corns
Shred cabbage and carrots, add about 3-4 tbsp of salt, and pound ten minutes until nice and watery.
Add whole garlic cloves, coriander, black pepper corns.
Mix together and then scoop into a wide mouth quart size mason jar, mash down so no air bubbles. If liquid doesn’t cover to about 1-1/2 inch from lip of jar, add water.