Fermented foods have proved to be a beneficial addition to my digestive health, however have also come at a cost. Kombucha, Coconut Yogurt, and Sauerkraut (my top faves!) aren’t cheap to buy, yet are fairly cheap to make. So today I’m going to give you a super easy recipe (straight out of my cleanse program) to show you step by step how to EASILY make sauerkraut at home, at a fraction of the cost, and it’s even tastier.
So why do you want to add fermented cabbage, aka sauerkraut, to your diet?
Real Sauerkraut (raw, and preferably home made) is made though a process called lacto-fermentation, where the good bacteria (Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus) works with the brine (cabbage juice and sea salt) to convert the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria, and ends up providing you with a nutritionally dense food that is loaded with probiotics – cheaper (and a real food alternative) to buying supplements. The addition of probiotics in food form means you are not only getting a crazily healthy and tasty superfood in to your diet, but you are helping your digestive system out too – super important for those with leaky gut or other digestive issues.
Why home made over store bought conveniently packaged (and ready) Sauerkraut?
The best reason to make sauerkraut, rather than to buy it, is that most store bought sauerkraut has loads of additives, excessive amount of unhealthy salt, and is usually pasteurized (heated), which means that all the good bacteria (probiotics) that were present in the cabbage are no longer present. Kinda invalidates the whole point. Or if you are lucky enough to come across REAL sauerkraut that hasn’t been pasteurised (it will be in the fridge rather than the aisles) you are looking at a jar that comes with a hefty price tag for something even any kitchen newbie could whip up with some time, patience, and at about a tenth of the price – plus its fun!
So how to:
For this recipe you will need:
2 cabbages (any coloured cabbages, or a mix for a super cool effect); here I have used organic savoy cabbages) – NOTE remove one of the outer leaves to use later!!!!!
2.5TBsp good quality sea salt (NOT IODIZED)
Clean large glass mason jar with a lid that easily seals airtight
Clean large bowl to massage the cabbage and clean hands! Cleanliness is key here as you do not want any bacteria getting in to your cabbage
Get two cabbages (I have added a pic for size reference), and begin to chop them one at a time (you need space in your bowl to massage the cabbages so I did mine one at a time).
Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core of the cabbage.
Finely slice (as fine as you can to get the best texture) one cabbage and add it to a large bowl. Add 1 TBsp sea salt and begin to massage the cabbage to get the cabbage to extract all its good juices (this is key!!). Massage away for about 5-10 minutes until the cabbage is limp and has shrunk in size. Your cabbage will go from being a full bowl to about 1/3-1/4 of its size, as seen here.
Add this cabbage to your jar and sprinkle a little of the salt as you layer it in. Add any of the left over liquid as this brine is key to the fermentation process. Important note: use only wooden or plastic utensils here and when serving the sauerkraut as the metal can have a reaction with your lovely sauerkraut and interrupt the fermentation process!
Repeat with the other cabbage and layer all of the sauerkraut in to the jar. Use your fist or a wooden spoon to press down the cabbage in to the jar so that the brine rises above the cabbage. (IF there is not enough brine just add a small amount of sea salt to some filtered water and add until the sauerkraut is fully submerged – it needs to be covered in order to make sure your sauerkraut ferments rather than goes bad).
Now seeing as you are making this in a jar (and not in a crock which is where you would weight the cabbage down with a plate and some rocks), you will need to fold the cabbage leaf you left aside and place this over the cabbage to help compress the cabbage below the brine level. You can see in this pic some little bubbles – this is normal and is a good sign of healthy fermentation.
Now its a waiting game. Sauerkraut can take anywhere from 3-10 days or longer depending on your taste buds (mine took 3.5 days to have the perfect tang that I wanted). Each day you want to open your jar to help release the gases and to push down the sauerkraut (using that wooden spoon) to ensure it stays below the brine. Keep the sauerkraut in a cool room temp (if it is too warm then the sauerkraut will begin to go too mushy and may turn bad, and too cold and its going to take a while to ferment- I placed mine in the pantry which served as the perfect environment) and begin tasting as of day 3 until it tastes right to you (do not be off put by the smell!). Once its the perfect taste for you (the longer you leave it the more it will ferment), transfer your sauerkraut to the fridge where it can be stored for months. A perfect way to make use of any overload of cabbage you have – and is even more beneficial then plain old cabbage.
Personally I find it doesn’t last longer than a few days in the fridge as there’s some sauerkraut lovers in this household.
This is the final product after 3.5 days
Now if you find you need extra brine to keep sauerkraut submerged once you start picking from the jar/eating by the handful just mix sea salt and filtered water and add it. Perfect!
I love eating mine with a little olive oil and sunflower seeds for a super healthy snack, or add it to your salads, or as a side with your meal.
You can also add some herbs, spices, garlic, fennel, chilli, and so on, whatever tickles your fancy to change the flavour and make an interesting twist on this little recipe.
Let me know how you go or if you’ve had any fermenting experiences in the past – I would love some new ones to try out.