I started fermenting foods last year as part of an experiment, and I’ve been well and truly addicted ever since. Considering the probiotic health benefits of it, I am happy with this kind of addiction!
Fermenting is a way of preserving foods and increasing their nutritional value. During fermentation, billions of beneficial bacterial are produced. The earliest record of fermentation dates back as far as 6000 B.C., and due to people today becoming increasingly interested in healthy digestion and gut health it’s becoming more popular than ever. (Wholefoods is full of it!).
Lacto-fermentation is the type of fermentation that I use for the recipe below. It is an anaerobic process whereby lactic acid bacteria coverts sugar into lactic acid, which then acts a preservative. Along with the vegetable/fruit of choice, salt is key to this kind of fermentation as it helps create a condition where bacteria can thrive, pulling water and nutrients from the substrate and adding flavour.
Evidence indicates that probiotic rich food, like sauerkraut, contribute to the microbial balance of the gastrointestinal tract – supporting a super healthy immune system and a happy gut! Considering 80% of our immune system health comes from our gastrointestinal tract, I’m more encouraged than ever to ensure I keep my gut happy 🙂
My homemade sauerkraut recipe is quick, cheap, easy and delicious. It’s my go-to. This year I decided to experiment with spicy flavours (garlic, chilli and ginger) as an addition to the cabbage. I’d recommend it, but it’s not essential.
20g Sea salt flakes/Himalayan salt
1 medium sized white or red cabbage
1 garlic clove (optional)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger (optional)
1 small red chilli (optional)
1 kilner jar (with a flip lid ideally, but a screw top works well too)
1 sharp knife and cutting board
Wash your hands and all the equipment thoroughly
Cut your cabbage in half. If the outer leaves are wilted, throw them away. Cut out the core in a circular shape but keep this for later on
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the cabbage into thin slices. Some people want to use a grater blade to ensure the slices are as thin as possible, but I personally find slicing cabbage quite therapeutic
Optional: chop the garlic, ginger and chilli into chunks (big enough to remove when you come around to eating it)
Transfer the chopped cabbage into a big bowl and sprinkle with 20g salt (and add the garlic, chilli and ginger if you’re using it)
Using your clean hands, knead the cabbage like you would dough until the salt has naturally drawn out the water content from the cabbage to create a soggy brine (this can take up to 10 minutes)
Now pack the kilner jars tight with the cabbage. I find 1kg of cabbage fits one large jar. It just takes a little bit of forcing to fit it all in
Once complete, use the core and cut it down to fit in the neck of the jar. This is to ensure everything that you’re going to eat stays under water and won’t develop mould on top of the surface whilst it’s fermenting
Screw/pop the lid on tight and leave on your kitchen side (ideally out of direct sunlight) for a minimum of 4 days
Ensure that you ‘burp’ your jar everyday. For this, take the lid off very slightly and allow the fizzy bubbles to rise to the top of the jar
If after 4 days you taste your sauerkraut and think it’s intense enough in flavour, pop in the fridge and it will now stop fermenting and can last for years. If you prefer a softer and tangier flavour, leave out of the fridge for as long as 14 days.
You can experiment with all different kinds of vegetables. For example, follow the same steps with red cabbage:
Have you made sauerkraut before? Do you have any recipe variations? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂