Why make sauerkraut? I can make a VERY long list why you should start making this really easy, tasty, affordable health food.
Its super easy, you don’t need to be a kitchen wizard to be successful. You don’t need any expensive equipment and the ingredients are very affordable and available in any food store. It doesn’t take long and if you have children or grandchildren around, it’s a really fun and hands-on task to do together. It’s is almost like a little science project that will sit and bubble on your kitchen counter.
So if all that doesn’t convince you, let’s talk about the incredible health benefits of consuming sauerkraut. We can all agree that the stomach is the engine room of our bodies. If the stomach is not working as it should, we feel lethargic, bloated, irritated, annoyed. The list goes on. Basically we need to make sure the digestive system can easily process the food we eat, extract and deliver nutrients, train our immune system. Often stress, too much processed foods, alcohol etc has weakened the mix of healthy bacteria that needs to live in our digestive system and as a result we feel sluggish, bloated etc. Bring on the sauerkraut!
Sauerkraut is packed with healthy bacteria which happens during the fermentation process. So even if you change nothing else in your diet, if you add a little sauerkraut to your main meal as a tasty side, you will do something great for your digestion. How easy is that!
The taste of sauerkraut can be a bit full on to start off. But believe me it will become addictive as you start eating it regularly. And a word of caution; fermented foods are quite powerful so I suggest to just eat one small spoon full every day until your digestive system is used to it. You can have a rather strong reaction at the start, such as diarrhea, constipation, headaches, joint aches, chills, sweats. This is your body detoxifying and nothing to worry about. If your reaction is strong, back off a little and eat less, but don’t stop completely. Very soon you will not have any reaction at all.
TRADITIONAL SAUERKRAUT RECIPE
- 1 head of green cabbage (you can add 1/4 head of red cabbage if you want pink kraut)
- Himalayan salt
- Filtered water
- Sterilized 500 ml glass jars, screw top or snap lock. Wide mouth opening. recycled jars are fine
- large knife, large mixing bowl, measuring jug, food handling gloves
- Make sure the cabbage is room temperature before you begin. If its refrigerated, leave it out on the bench for a couple of hours before you begin.
- Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage, wash them and put them aside. They will be used later.
- With the knife quarter the head of cabbage, cut out and discard the core. Cut the cabbage into approximately 3 mm shreds, you don’t have to be precise but make sure its all about the same thickness. Measure how much you end up with by packing it firmly into the measuring jug before you tip it all into the mixing bowl. It can vary significantly, but you will end up with about 4 liters of shredded cabbage.
- Sprinkle 1/2 tsp natural salt/liter over the cabbage, mix lightly and let it sit for a few minutes while you get your jars ready and put your gloves on.
- With you gloved hands, start working the cabbage by vigorously massaging and mixing the cabbage until it starts releasing its juices.This will take a few minutes. You will end up with lots of liquid and half the bulk you started with.
- At this point it is ready to either add your spices, herbs or other ingredients *(some suggestions at the end) OR start packing it into your sterilized jars.
- Pack the cabbage mixture firmly into the jars, making sure there are no air pockets. Put in a hand full, push it down with your hand or a tamper, then add another hand full. Keep going until you have about 25 mm space left for it to expand during the fermentation process. The liquid should completely cover the cabbage mixture. If it doesn’t, top up with filtered water.
- Now use your washed outer leaves to make a folded over parcel to push into the jar. This will ensure your cabbage doesn’t rise above the liquid. Lid on and let it stand on your bench out of direct sunlight for about 1-2 weeks.It will start bubbling and juices will seep out of the jar so make sure you place a plate underneath to protect your bench surface.
- After 1-2 weeks (this varies depending on room temperature), open the lid, take out and discard the leaf stopper. Place jar in the fridge and start enjoying it with your meals as a tasty side! The kraut will last in your fridge for at least 1 month. Do not throw out the leftover kraut liquid at the bottom of the jar! This is a healthy tonic, or use a tbsp of it into your next batch to speed up the fermentation process.
* STAGE 6 VARIATIONS
- Add 1/2 tsp cumin/caraway/fennel seeds per liter shredded cabbage
- Add 1 bunch of chopped fresh dill and mix through
- Grate 1 apple, 1 carrot and a knob of ginger and mix through
- Add a few slices of lemon around the jar before adding the cabbage mix
CONTINUE WITH STEPS 7-9