Recipe: “Just in the Leek of Thyme” Sauerkraut
Recipe by Luke Regalbuto & Maggie Levinger Photographs by Trinette Reed & Chris Gramly
Luke Regalbuto and Maggie Levinger, the folks behind Wild West Ferments, a fermented food and drink company in San Francisco, share a sauerkraut recipe here.
This kraut has become one of our signature flavors. It’s undeniably irresistible in its savory, umami flavor.
6 pounds organic green cabbage, cored and slice
2–3 whole cabbage leaves
1 pound thinly sliced leeks (white part only)
1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons unrefined high-quality sea salt
1-gallon glass jar, clean and dry
Pint jar filled with water, clean and dry on the outside
Cloth and string or rubber band for cover
Cut off the stem end of the cabbage and discard any discolored or dirty outer leaves. Pull off three good leaves, keeping them as whole as possible, and set aside.
Next, quarter and core the cabbage. Slice it into thin strips across its grain and place the sliced cabbage into a large bowl, sprinkling it with salt as you go.
Add the dried thyme and sliced leeks and toss until evenly mixed.
Massage the contents of the bowl until juices are pulled out of the cabbage to form a puddle on the bottom of the bowl—usually several minutes. Keep massaging until liquid drips freely through your fingers when you hold a handful of the slaw above the bowl. You will need to really squeeze and work the vegetables to extract enough juices. You can also leave the contents alone for at least an hour and let time do some of the work for you.
Now pack all of the juicy material into a clean and dry one-gallon jar. Pack it tightly so that there are no air pockets in the jar. Fill the jar to no less than four inches from the rim.
Scrape the upper sides of the jar so that no little pieces remain above the bulk of vegetables. Retrieve the reserved whole cabbage leaves and layer them on top of the sliced cabbage to hold down any stray pieces during fermentation. When you press the cabbage down, liquid should rise up to cover the cabbage by one to two inches. The brine should be at least two inches from the top rim of the jar to prevent overflow during fermentation. If you think there is risk of overflow, put the gallon jar on a plate or other dish to catch overflow liquid.
Place the pint jar filled with water inside the gallon jar so that it rests on top of the whole cabbage leaves and press it down to force the juice out of the slaw. Cover the mouth of the gallon jar with a clean cloth and tie it off so that no flies can make way their way inside. Keep at room temperature or slightly cooler for about six weeks. Pack tightly into jars, each one topped off with the brine. Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator if kept moist.