I absolutely love sauerkraut so I have no idea what has taken me so long to start fermenting my own. Well I do know actually, I was both being lazy and afraid of ruining it and poisoning myself with some nasty bacteria. So to mitigate the risk of me making some inevitable mistakes, I bought myself the proper Mason Pickle Pipes and Mason tops. Store bought sauerkraut usually does not have the good bacteria you need since it is just made with vinegar and not fermented. Sauerkraut is supposedly fairly fail safe to make, but it can go wrong and I didn’t want any bad bacteria populating my guts (I’ve had enough of those issues); I’m trying to up my good ones. Cabbage is turned into sauerkraut through lacto-fermentation. The fermentation process naturally prevents the growth of bad bacteria. An oxygen-free environment is what enables this to happen. You also need salt to draw moisture out of the cabbage and inhibit other bad bacteria until the lacto-fermentaion is complete. Hence why I got the Pickle Pipes: they keep oxygen out of the jar but allow carbon dioxide to escape as the cabbage bubbles and ferments. The Mason tops are just a weight that keep the cabbage submerged in the brine so it does not come into contact with oxygen either but you could use something like a ramekin with pebbles in it for example. Recipe! Here goes! Sterilise your jar. Shred cabbage. Don’t rinse it by the way. You want bacteria to start the fermentation. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt (I use Celtic) to the cabbage in a bowl. Get your hands in there and massage you cabbage until it is well mixed. Add another 1/2 tablespoon and keep massaging. You want the cabbage to feel like it is starting to break down. Water needs to start to run out and release liquid and then it’s ready to go into your Mason jar. Now cover it with the brine and add water if necessary to cover it entirely. You want it totally submerged in the jar. Add your Mason weight. Let sit to create your probiotics. A good temperature is 16 to 24C room temperature. Check on you mix everyday. Add water to make sure it stays submerged. Leave it for as little as 5 days up to as much as 5 weeks. I did 10 to 11 days which seemed great. Time will depend on your climate. How will you know that your kraut has gone off? If your cabbage has turned brown or pink, grown slimy or mouldy, or starts smelling yeasty instead of that well-loved kraut funk, don’t hesitate to throw that batch away. Leave it to ferment! More time means a more sour flavour and more good probiotics. The great thing is that you can customise it to you tastes if you make it yourself. If you like stronger, sharper kraut, simply leave your jar out on the counter to ferment longer. Apparently you can leave it out to ferment for as much as 28 days! Wow! Super-flora! Obviously you’ve got to be very careful to keep the oxygen out of the ferment for this. I fermented my first batch for 8 days; it’s been a Great British heat wave over here so it seemed like a decent amount of time. It’s great! It is a bit too crunchy but I will try fermenting for longer next time and see how that goes. Have a go! And here is a link to a great Sauerkraut blog I have found.