How To Determine The Amount Of Salt You Need When Making Sauerkraut

Woman putting sauerkraut in glass jar
Woman putting sauerkraut in glass jar - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Eating fermented foods has been all the rage lately. Among the many foods that undergo fermentation, sauerkraut is one of the most popular thanks to the ease of preparation coupled with its minimal ingredient requirements — basically cabbage and salt. When it comes to making sauerkraut at home, using the right salt quantity is vital to a successful fermentation process. The best way is to do your calculation and not just eyeballing it.

Begin by getting the weight of the cabbage — weigh it after washing and chopping so you only calculate using the exact amount you're fermenting. Next, calculate the amount of salt needed using the ratio of 1½ teaspoons of salt to 1 pound of cabbage. If you fancy a saltier sauerkraut, you can increase the salt to 2 teaspoons per pound of cabbage. Alternatively, you can use a percentage calculation, where the salt used should be approximately 2% of the cabbage's weight.

These measurements are not cast on stone but only serve as a starting point for a good balance of flavor and fermentation. Otherwise, you can make adjustments based on personal preference and environmental factors. For example, if you stay in a colder environment, it's advisable to tone down the amount of salt to about 1.5%. On the other hand, if you're in warmer weather, a bit more salt is beneficial (such as 2.5%) to slow down the fermentation process and prevent spoilage.

Read more: Restaurant Foods That Always Taste Better Than What You Make At Home

The Importance Of Proper Salt Usage In Sauerkraut Fermentation

sauerkraut with salt and peppercorns
sauerkraut with salt and peppercorns - Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

As you might have already guessed, salt is not just used to make your sauerkraut taste better. It plays a crucial role in the fermentation process. When combined with the cabbage, salt serves to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus in this case) while inhibiting the proliferation of the bad bugs. This process of lacto-fermentation is what preserves the cabbage, enhances its sour flavor, and boosts its nutritional value.

Therefore, using too little or too much salt has significant effects on your sauerkraut preparation. Too little salt can lead to insufficient fermentation, resulting in a mushy product or even spoilage since the harmful bacteria are not sufficiently inhibited from growing. This can lead to food safety concerns. On the other hand, excessive salt can hinder fermentation, resulting in overly salty sauerkraut that may be unpalatable.

In the event you find that you've added too much salt, don't worry, there's a simple solution. If you discover this early enough before your cabbage ferments, you can dilute the excess salt by adding more cabbage or water to the mixture. But if you discover your sauerkraut is too salty after it's fully fermented, you can run it through fresh water to wash away the excess salt — but apply this method cautiously as your sauerkraut may end up a bit bland and you risk losing the good bacteria.

Read the original article on Tasting Table