Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut

Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut is, perhaps, my favorite of the many fermented foods we make at home – though homemade root beer and true sour pickles are close runners-up.  Vibrant in both flavor and color, the sauerkraut also packs a bit of heat that mellows with time and brings a solid punch of pure salty-sour flavor you’d come to expect from any good quality ferment.

Ferments sustain us through winter.  In the summer and autumn, our garden and CSA boxes overflow with good things to eat: heirloom tomatoes, unusual greens, peppers, kohlrabi, baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes, herbs, sweet potatoes, beans, cucumbers.  But, as with anything, it doesn’t last.  The garden dies off mid-September (yes, we have a 60-day growing season), but our CSA continues through the first few weeks of December.

My husband and I preserve everything we can.  We dry quite a bit, including greens for Super Green Veggie Powder and fruit for snacks we take on the road.  I can a little bit, usually when the fermentation crocks and dehydrator are full, and make Spiced Peach Butter every chance I get.  But, for the most part, we ferment.

Vegetables, Salt and Time

A good ferment requires very little: just vegetables, salt and time.  And while it seems desperately complicated, it’s not – as students of the Get Cultured! online fermentation class quickly learn.  Rather, the biggest hurdle most newcomers to real food face is that of trust: trust in themselves, trust in tradition, trust in food and trust in bacteria.

In the face of uncertainty, many newcomers to real food fall prey to fear-based tactics and myths that lead some to believe there’s only one right way to do things: the right jar, the right starter (or the refusal of starter), the right time, the right temperature.  And, in the end, the only right way to cook or ferment or do just about anything is the way that works for you – the way that keeps you happy and motivated and fearless and on the trek forward.

Fermentation is a magical, transformative process.  And, for that reason, fermentation is the aspect of traditional foods that appeals to me most.  Over time, bacteria eat away at the carbohydrates found in vegetables – like cabbage and garlic and jalapenos in this Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Sauerkraut.  As the carbohydrates are eaten away, acids are produced and also vitamins, too.  As a result, the food is richer in nutrition when it comes out of the crock than it is when it goes in.

Choosing a Fermentation Crock

In addition to vegetables, salt and time, you also need something to ferment your foods in – a crock of some sort.  The real key to safe, and delicious, fermented foods is to make sure that the vegetables you’re fermenting remain submerged in brine, and ideally in an anaerobic environment though lactobacillus bacteria are not obligate anaerobes; that is, they can and will proliferate with or without air.

When just beginning to ferment foods, most people opt to use plain glass jars or open crocks – which is a fine and effective way to begin fermentation, as long as your fermenting vegetables remain submerged in brine and you lift any bloom or film that appears on the brine’s surface.  After time, or after discovering resplendent beauty of fermented foods, many fermenters eventually progress to airlocked devices like specialized stoneware crocks or glass jars equipped with airlocks.  These crocks – engineered specifically for fermentation – help to prevent the formation of molds while maintaining ideal conditions for fermentation.  They often come with weights which help to make sure that the sauerkraut or other vegetables you’re fermenting remain completely submerged in liquid which is (more or less) the only rule to follow during fermentation.

Where to Find (or How to Make) A Fermentation Crock for your Sauerkraut

I tend to favor my stalwart stoneware fermentation crocks (you can find them online), not only because they’re ideally suited for fermentation (and we ferment A LOT), but also because they’re remarkably beautiful.  Other people favor glass jars equipped with airlocks however they still fail from time to time. Alternatively, you can learn how to turn a mason jar into an airlocked fermentation jar.

Jalapeno Garlic Sauerkraut: a super EASY ferment you can make at home using just red cabbage, garlic, jalapenos and salt.  Let it sit on your counter for 3 to 4 weeks and BAM, some of the best sauerkraut you'll ever taste.

Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut

Jalapeno Kraut (1 of 1)

By Jenny Published: December 6, 2012

  • Yield: 16 Servings
  • Prep: 15 mins

Sour and hot, this sauerkraut packs the punch of jalapeno and garlic for a potent side dish or condiment that is resilient with flavor. I tend to pair it with pan-fried sausages or cooked lentils and beans.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds red cabbage (shredded)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 medium jalapeno peppers (sliced thin)
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt

Instructions

  1. Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the volatile oils of the peppers, toss the cabbage, garlic, jalapenos and sea salt into a large mixing bowl. Knead the vegetables together by hand for 5 minutes until they begin to release their juices. Allow the shredded vegetables to rest a further 5 minutes, then return for 5 more minutes of kneading.
  2. Layer the salted vegetables into a quart-sized fermentation jar or crock (find a crock online, and pack tightly until the brine created by the vegetable juice and salt completely submerges the shredded cabbage and peppers. Weigh down the vegetables with a glass weight sterilized stone or other heavy item small enough to fit within your crock, close and ferment at room temperature.
  3. Taste after about 3 weeks and continue to ferment if the sauerkraut hasn't achieved the level of tartness you prefer. Transfer to cold storage when sour enough for your liking and use within 9 months.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    The Hot Pink Kraut from your meal plans has been a staple in our home. I like the addition of jalepeno peppers in this recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Nan says

    I’ve got a red cabbage sitting on my counter waiting to be turned into this great sounding stuff! I often have a hard time when using any cabbage other than Napa to get enough water to really cover the veggies for the fermentation process. The last time I made sauerkraut, I had to add some water. I also added about a tablespoon of the watery whey fluid from making milk Kefir to innoculate it with good bacteria. It turned out well, but I just thought I would check to see if this is a good practice or not. I only let it sit about 3 days before refrigerating it too.

    • Daniel says

      I almost never get enough water out of the cabbage itself and top it with a mixture of 1tsp brining salt per 1 cup of water. I would not recommend adding straight water as you need to hold a certain salinity level until the good bugs get a strong go at it. I have used whey in some other ferments (green beans, asparagus, cucumbers, etc) and it works well, but there is a very noticeable taste to it. Not bad at all, but very characteristic. Want to try those same things with just salt water and see how it comes out…

      • Daniel says

        also, I would let it go a lot longer than 3 days. I usually test my ferments at 3 days just to make sure that all is good, but tend to let them go at least 2 weeks if not closer to a month. At 3 days you can tell that stuff is going on, but after several weeks it starts changing a lot (in a good way). I’d do some longer ferments and see how it works for ya.

        cheers!

  3. says

    I have been thinking about fermenting for a long time and must be one of those fearful people because I still haven’t gone for it. This looks and sounds absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for your advice on crocks I’ve been looking at one on Amazon that seems to have good ratings but you have to buy the weight separately. Thank you for the post!

    • Daniel says

      Kendra: your fear is normal. I was in the same boat just a handful of months ago. Since then I’ve fermented about 20 jars of different stuff, though mostly kraut, and it has all been so good. When I share it with other people they tend to be timid at first and then fall in love instantly once they taste it. For starters, just get some mason jars, fill them up with your ferment, and then top it all the way to the top with salt water (1tsp salt per cup of water) and put the lid on loosely. Check on it every handful of days, top it off with salt water as needed and skim off any scum. If you keep it topped off, little to no scum will grow. Have fun!

  4. Jessica says

    I have been researching fermenting. I’m almost ready to try…especially after this recipe!
    Again, I’m new, but because if the gasses, dhould I worry about this blowing up!??

    • Daniel says

      put the lids on your jar loosely to let gasses escape. I haven’t had any blow up, but have come to check on them and seen the lids bent all out of shape. Try it, you will love it!

    • Elena says

      No. Just don’t cover it tight. And I’m also poke it all the way down (I’m fermenting in the glass jars, covered with cheese clothe) with wooden skewer ., to release gasses…

  5. Chelsea says

    I’m planning on giving Classic Sauerkraut (Green) and this Hot Pink Spicy Kraut (Off Red) for my Christmas baskets this year! I love the Giving 5 Hands of Christmas this year, and am wanting to hit all 5 for this Christmas. Merry wishes to all.

    Christmas Delight~
    Che

  6. taliny says

    This looks freakin amaazzzzing. I just made a batch of traditional sauerkraut ( also found on your website). This is definitely next on my list. Why am I fermenting? Newly pregnant – my doctor is BIG on fermented foods aka healthy bacteria. So today, I made pickles, pickled beets, and sauerkraut. I’m excited.

  7. Lisa says

    3 weeks fermenting today and just tasted mine! It is perfect, just the right amount of warmth. This recipe is definitely a keeper! A bonus that it is pretty too!

  8. Diana says

    I did ferment for 3 weeks, but keep my house at 68 degress in the winter so was not surprised that it took that long. Not only is it beautiful, but it is very tasty. I served it slightly warmed with sauteed venison hot links.

  9. lydia says

    Hi,

    I just did a slightly modified version of this with green cabbages and only one jalapeno per three or four cabbages, but about the same or even a big more garlic. It smell delicious! This is only my third batch of kraut, so wanted to get your feedback, if you would be so generous. I am getting ready to have a baby so this batch was BIG– 18 cabbages!– so I would be really sad if it failed. I have a real crock with a water seal and within 24 hrs it started letting out lots of bubbles. This batch is on day five, and when I open it, there are tons of bubbles– it is almost foamy, but the bubbles are big. And the cabbage had inflated, almost lifting the stones out of the brine, it had so much gas in the submerged cabbage. I compressed the cabbage back down and it was like punching down bread dough! Is this just a very active batch? It smells delicious and has no sign of mold or anything weird going on at the top of the brine. Thank you so much. I just discovered your site and it is such an amazing resource, and so elegantly presented!

    Lydia

  10. Sabina says

    Let me just state for the record, that is my all time favorite Kraut! We could easily consume a quart a week!!! Yikes! Thanks Jenny!

  11. Daniel says

    Hi Jenny,
    I’ve been really enjoying your recipes and articles. Each time I do a new ferment project, your website is amongst the top three that I check for guidance. I have some hot pink jalapeno (and other peppers) kraut going right now and can’t wait to get into it. I tested it after 3 days and, while nowhere near ripe, smells amazing. I like to let it go about a month to get it properly sour. Thanks for your articles!

    cheers,
    Daniel

  12. says

    This recipe looks great! Sorry if this is a sill question, but could i use the crock portion of my crock pot for this and seal the lid on it and just let it sit? (without applying the heat obvi)
    thanks

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