You think sauerkraut is just a sad looking side dish served with pork knuckle at the Bavarian Beer Cafe, only consumed after one too many beers? Well think again….sauerkraut is a real super food super star in its own right providing massive health benefits for everyone who chooses to add it as a side to their brekkie, lunch or dinner.
From a nutritional point of view fermented vegetables, particularly cabbage, knock a serious power punch to the colonies of bad bacteria that build up in our guts due to the constant exposure of toxins and junk we subject our bodies to on a daily basis. You see, we all have a combination of good and bad bacteria living in our guts, trillions and trillions of the little things, and when the good outweighs the bad bacteria, we have a healthy gut capable of absorbing nutrients from our foods and supporting strong immune systems. When the bad guys outweigh the good we start to develop symptoms of poor health including low energy and irritability, depression, poor digestion leading to malabsorption of nutrients, bloating and constipation, low immunity…..just to name a few.
Certain foods fuel the bad guys… think processed foods, refined sugars, packaged foods whilst certain foods fuel the good guys….green, fibrous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) and probiotic sources such as fermented drinks (kombucha, kefir) and vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi etc). So the key is, reduce the amount of processed, packaged and high sugary foods you are consuming and start to include more fresh green vegetables into your diets along with a good probiotic source such as fermented vegies and you are well on the way to assisting the good guys win the battle resulting in a happier, healthier you.
So let me guide you on how simple it is to start your very own home fermentation. Not only will you be surprised by how simple it is, you will also be super pleased by how damn good home fermented vegetables taste. You don’t need any fancy equipment or starter cultures to get started (although use of cultures can assist in providing a more consistent yield as it reduces the influence of other factors that can impede fermentation), all you need is an interest in improving your health, a sterile glass jar with airtight seal, a cabbage some salt and a spare 15 minutes of your time. You in?
So here goes…..
- 1 purple or green cabbage
- 3 tablespoons of Celtic salt or Himalayan salt
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon of juniper berries, caraway seeds, cloves or any other flavour you wish to add (optional)
- 2 litre glass jar with airtight seal (I prefer to use Fido jars)
- Clean the jar, mixing bowls and hands well before starting.
- Discard all but one of the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage and then cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the core. Slice cabbage quarters into thin ribbons using a knife or mandolin and place into a large mixing bowl.
- Dissolve the salt in 2 cups of filtered water and pour over the top of the cabbage. Begin mixing the salt mixture into the shredded cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. Gradually the cabbage will become watery and limp. This will take about 5-10 minutes of massaging. Think of it as exercise. It’s good for you.
- If you wish to flavour your sauerkraut, add the berries, seeds or cloves now.
- Pack the cabbage into your glass jar, tamping the cabbage down with her fist or a wooden spoon after each addition to remove any air pockets.
- Once all of the cabbage is in the jar, pour any liquid that was released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar also, leaving at least an inch of clearance from the top of the liquid to the top of the jar. Top the shredded cabbage with one of the large outer cabbage leaves you saved from earlier and tamp down again to ensure the liquid is covering all of the cabbage.
- Weigh the cabbage down using a smaller glass or clean stones to ensure all cabbage remains submerged in the liquid.
- Close the lid on the jar and let it start doing it’s thing.
- Ferment the cabbage for 7-10 days, keeping it at cool room temperature. Every couple of days ‘burp’ the jar by opening the lid ever so slightly to release the gas building up as part of the fermentation process. Don’t open the lid fully, just a tad so you can hear the gas release and then close quickly so you don’t allow much air in.
- Taste it at day 7 and see if it is to your liking. If not, keep fermenting until you achieve your desired taste.
- Once it is done, keep it in the fridge in an air tight jar for up to 6 months.