Sauerkraut is a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as flooding our body with beneficial bacteria needed to maintain a healthy gut. Including sauerkraut in our diet helps to boost both our immune and digestive systems and can provide us with a whole range of health benefits from improved digestion, radiant skin & increased energy levels. Certain compounds in cabbage are also known to help treat stomach ulcers.
Avoid brands with added chemical preservatives and added vinegar as it's essential to eat fermented foods raw and unpasteurised in order to receive the health benefits. Sauerkraut found in most supermarkets tends to be pasteurised so if you don't fancy making your own, ask for raw ferments in your local health store or there are several raw varieties available online - have a look on the Raw Living fermented products page for a lovely selection of products.
If you would like to try fermenting vegetables, making sauerkraut is a pretty straight forward process. You can start with a simple recipe using cabbage and salt or try adding a selection of vegetables and herbs to the cabbage.
A couple of tips before starting:
Sterilise equipment before use
Avoid metal equipment as it can damage the beneficial bacteria (use glass, plastic or wood)
Make sure vegetables are submerged under liquid to prevent mould
Use an air-tight container to prevent the growth of harmful organisms
1 large white or red cabbage (or 2 small cabbages) - grated
1 - 2 tsp mineral salt
half an onion - sliced
half a fennel bulb - sliced
a few sprigs of dill - chopped
- Bubbling is fine - it shows the sauerkraut is fermenting
- Slight white film on bottom of jar is also fine
- Discard the ferment if you see any mould or discolouration (when white cabbage turns brown or pink)
- Try adding different vegetables to your cabbage such as carrots or radish
- Make a super spicy ferment by adding garlic, chili & ginger.
Start by removing a few outer leaves from the cabbage and the core of the cabbage - put them to one side for use later.
Massage all ingredients together and leave for around an hour until the ingredients soften and start to break down. Juice will be released from the vegetables, all this liquid is used in the recipe.
Use a kilner jar or crock pot - pack in all the ingredients including all the liquid from the vegetables
Top with one of the cabbage leaves and press down again until all the liquid starts to cover the leaves. If there isn't much liquid, just top up with some filtered water until the vegetables are all under liquid.
The vegetables must then be kept submerged using a weight - If you don't have a crock pot with ceramic weights, you can use a jar filled with water, a sterilised stone, the core of the cabbage or a large hard vegetable - when you close the lid, the pressure from the lid will keep the contents submerged under water.
The purpose of keeping the vegetables under water is to keep the oxygen out. Ferments need an anaerobic environment (no oxygen) which will encourage the sauerkraut to ferment using lactic acid found in cabbage.
Once the lid is on tight, store the sauerkraut jar at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.
The sauerkraut will taste slightly sour. Once fermented, you can store the sauerkraut in a fridge and it will easily keep for 12 months
Add sauerkraut to salads, in nori wraps or simply use as condiment to any meal you are having.