Ready to spice up your sauerkraut? Our Thai Chili Sauerkraut recipe packs a nice bit of heat but isn’t anything you can’t handle.
In our (what seems like) never-ending quest to make a spicy sauerkraut, we decided to give Thai chilis a test run. We’ve tried jalapeños in past without much success (in terms of heat). We’ve also tried using a homemade spicy mustard but it just didn’t give us the kick we were looking for. Thai chili peppers (and peppers in general) are abundant in Wisconsin this time of year so we figured why not try them in sauerkraut?
Thai chilis are much spicier than jalapeños but slightly less spicy than habaneros. Of course, you never really know what you are going to get out of a pepper until you try it. To be honest, we had no idea how many to use so we tried three different batches and the recipe we’re sharing today was the clear winner.
To make our Thai Chili Sauerkraut, you’ll need:
- 1 head of cabbage, shredded
- 1 lb of carrots, shredded
- 6 Thai chili peppers
- Salt at a ratio of 1 tablespoon salt to 1 3/4 pounds cabbage
- Half-gallon glass jar with lid
First, prep the cabbage by removing the outer leaves and core. Set these aside for later.
Next, prep the carrots by peeling and cutting off the ends.
Then, trim the ends off the the thai chili peppers and cut in half.
Now it’s time to shred both the cabbage and carrots. We used our food processor to do the shredding this time and are happy with the results. You could also use a cabbage shredder or thinly slice the cabbage with a knife.
Place half of the cabbage in a large bowl or pot and add half of the salt. Massage the cabbage until it begins to sweat. Add the remaining cabbage and salt and then repeat the massaging process. If you’ve never massaged cabbage, basically think of it as grabbing by the handful and squeezing (like a sponge) and repeating over and over. This will squeeze the water out of the cabbage. You’ll know your cabbage is ready when it’s dripping wet and there is a small amount of liquid in the bottom of your bowl.
We use this salt to cabbage ratio: 1 tablespoon salt to 1 3/4 pounds cabbage. Any kind of salt is fine as long as it does not contain iodine. Iodine is an antibacterial agent and can interfere with the fermentation process. We use sea salt in our house.
Finally, add the shredded carrots and combine. Now it’s time to get packin’!
Grab your glass jar and add a layer of the cabbage and carrot mixture. Pack down with a wood spoon or cabbage pounder. Add a couple of pieces of thai chili peppers. Repeat the process over and over again until your jar is nearly full. Always being mindful that you are really packing down your mixture each time. You’d be surprised just how much you can fit in a half-gallon jar.
Fill almost to the top but leave a little room for your “weights.” It’s important to keep everything you want fermented submerged in brine because the microbes convert sugars into lactic acid which inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. It’s easy to do this with cabbage, simply place some of the outer leaves on top and fill in the rest of the space with pieces of the core (these are your “weights”).
When it comes to putting a lid on your sauerkraut, you can simply use the lid that came with the jar. If you decide to go this route, you’ll need to put your jar on plate and burp it every day for the first 3-5 days. If not, you’ll risk the liquid overflowing out of the jar and making a smelly mess. Burping your jar allows the CO2 gas to escape. The plate is to protect your countertop in case you forget to burp. To burp, open the jar slowly and close.
The other option is to use an airlock type lid. An airlock allows for gas to escape without letting any oxygen in. This lets you ferment in a completely anaerobic environment. For this recipe we used an Easy Fermenter lid. This lid works as an airlock so we can simply “set it and forget it.” I’d recommend them if you’re sick of burping and smelling your sauerkraut. They can be used for many other types of ferments too!
The Easy Fermenter comes with a built in date reminder. Simply set the date you begin the ferment on and forget it!
We let this batch ferment at room temperature for four weeks before moving to the refrigerator. We also removed the thai chilis before eating but you certainly don’t have to. I think this particular sauerkraut would be a fun addition to taco night!
- 1 head of cabbage
- 1 pound of carrots
- 6 Thai chilis
- salt at a ratio of 1 tablespoon salt to 1¾ pounds cabbage
- Remove the outer leaves of cabbage and set aside
- Cut the cabbage into quarters
- Remove the core and set aside
- Shred the cabbage
- Trim ends off of the carrots and peel
- Shred the carrots
- Trim the ends of the thai chilis and cut in half
- Place half of the cabbage in a large bowl and add half of the salt
- Massage the cabbage until it begins to sweat
- Add the remaining cabbage and salt repeat the massage process
- Add the shredded carrots to the shredded cabbage and combine
- Put a layer of cabbage and carrots in the jar and pack down
- Add a couple of thai chili pepper pieces
- Repeat steps 12 and 13 until the jar is nearly full, being mindful to pack down each layer
- Cover vegetable mixture with a layer of cabbage leaves (the outer pieces that you set aside)
- Then place pieces of the core on top to keep the vegetable mixture submerged in brine
- Cap the jar and let sit for approximately 1 month
- Move to cold storage
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