Maybe it’s the German blood running through my veins, but I sure do love me some Sauerkraut! It’s become a staple in my kitchen with just a couple tablespoons a day working wonders for my health. The active enzymes help give my digestion an extra boost and the amplified vitamin C (and host of other healthful goodies!) helps nourish my immune system.
If you want to talk return on investment, for such a simple process that comes so cheap, it’s one food that really packs a probiotic punch and is well worth the time. That’s why I am so excited to share with you my foolproof homemade sauerkraut recipe!
The naturally occuring bacteria and yeasts that are already present in the cabbage do the fermenting job for you. The salt is the only other ingredient needed to assist in the process. It’s like watching magic transform an otherwise bland vegetable into a tasty condiment with a bite to boot the badies away (the bad gut bacteria that is). My grade 9 english teacher will be so proud of my alliteration. But we all know it’s not magic. It’s nature simply doing what nature does best. You know, doing its tha-ing.
You are probably aware by now that our little bellies are full of good and bad bacteria. The Inner Health Plus ads on TV do a great job of creating a ‘cute’ image of what this ‘battle’ down there looks like for us. We all know the harsh reality though. It can be a nasty, dirty and anything but pleasant experience when there’s a war raging on downstairs. Your body will surely let know when all is not well in the land of the gut, colons and bowel. It’s far from cute.
Prolonged uses of antibiotics, a diet of processed foods, psychological, physical and emotional stressors in your life can all wreck havoc on your gut’s state of health. This inbalance of good/bad bacteria can result in a myriad of health problems such as; skin problems, digestive issues, lack of energy, irregular bowel movements and the list goes on. True health really does start in the gut!
So it’s important to support the good little guys in your belly. Eat health supporting foods that add to the ‘good’ population, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yoghurts. Your whole culinary world has just grown twice fold when you step into the wild and wonderful world of traditional food culturing.
By eating a diet abundant in natural probiotics, through traditional lacto-ferments and cultured foods, you will be well on your way to improved health and digestive heaven. I testify to this!
- 1 head of Cabbage
- 1 heaped tablespoon of natural sea salt
- Keep the outer leaves (you’ll need them at the end)
- Large bowl
- Chopping Board
- A weight (a small bowl, cup, tightly concealed bag of beans, rice or marbles could work)
- Fermenting container (I just used a BPA-free container as per the below pictures as it’s all I had lying around at the time. Glass would be preferred and some people use traditional fermenting pots. No need to go out of your way to buy something fancy though. Chances are, you have something you can use at home! Stay clear from steel though as the salt with rust it).
Simple Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
Step 1: Thinly shred/slice the cabbage. I find a food processor shreds the cabbage to finely for my liking. I prefer to simply slice with a knife in long thin strips.
Step 2: Add 1 heaped tablespoon of pure, natural sea salt (I use celtic) to half a head of cabbage. Salt is a preserving agent so whilst it’s needed, don’t add too much as this can inhibit the fermentation process. Allow the salt and cabbage mixture to sit there for 30 minutes. This simply allows the salt to draw the moisture out of the cabbage, producing a natural ‘brine’.
Step 3: If you are too impatient, like myself, you can just start punching and squashing the cabbage with your bare hands to help the process of drawing out the moisture. It’s like massaging the cabbage so it gives you quite the workout. Do so until you notice the cabbage to reduce in size and the moisture starts to gather at the bottom of your bowl.
Step 4: After around 5-10 minutes of massaging, your cabbage should have reduced by about a third.
Step 5: Transport the cabbage into your vessel bit by bit. Squash it down with you fist after each handful.
Step 6: This is quite the muscle workout, right? You want to cabbage to be nice and tight in the container as this helps to further draw out the moisture and increase you brine ratio.
Step 7: Once it’s filled, use the outer cabbage leaves to cover the top as you want to keep all the cabbage under the brine as any exposed pieces may be susceptible to mould. Place a weight to hold it under. I use a bowl/cup that fits inside the vessel. Then you can just leave the baby to sit on the bench out of direct sunlight for the next 2-4 weeks. A longer ferment results in a sourer taste but you don’t want to stop the process too early on as you may not get the full benefits of the fermentation process.
Time lapse (but here’s one I prepared earlier!)….
Step 8: The colour and the texture of the cabbage will now resemble that of true sauerkraut! It should have a slight ‘crunch’ but not like that of raw cabbage. It also has a softer texture and discoloured yellow colour to it.
A few extra notes:
- You can store the sauerkraut in a sealed container in the fridge indenfinately, although mine hardly lasts more than a few weeks!
- Too much salt can hinder the fermentation process whilst too little will mean a weaker preserve.
- You may notice a some bubbling and a bit of pressure building up by the lacto-ferment. It’s ok to open the lid and release the pressue. It also helps to monitor this in case you have some little bits that happen to submerge in the brine and are exposed to the air which can attract unwanted scum and mould.
- If you notice some scum building up at the top, you can simply scrape it off. Be careful though, any funky looking moulds you will want to do away with completely. Avoid eating anything that smells totally off.
- Experimenting with the process is the best way to learn. You may not get it perfect the first time round, but patience truly is a virtue in this case, as I now get a near perfect ferment everytime! You will find that the taste can vary from batch to batch and that’s the beauty of natural ferments. It’s dependent on so many different variables.
- Enjoy the experience of exploring the craft of traditional food fermentation and culturing. Overtime, you will broaden your fermenting horizons!
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