I was brought up on sauerkraut. My Great Polish Aunt was a specialist sauerkraut maker and I remember us as kids always having it with our meals. The sour flavour comes from the process of lacto-fermentation, similar to the pickling of cucumbers. But instead of soaking the cabbage in a vinegary brine solution, sauerkraut preparation requires only salt and the lactic acid bacteria already present on raw cabbage. Sauerkraut produces amazing amounts of lactobacilli, a healthy probiotic that helps with digestion and a healthy immune system. The fermentation also produces isothiocyanates, compounds shown to prevent disease. The cabbage itself contains similar anti-carcinogenic phytochemicals as broccoli and brussels sprouts, and is also a good source of vitamin C, K, and folate.
Most of us buy our kraut from the supermarket. Going that route means you’re probably losing all the good stuff through pasteurisation, so why not make your own? It’s incredibly easy to make your own as most supermarket varieties have been pasteurised, meaning the heat has probably destroyed most of the good bacteria.
What’s great about it:
Probiotics are live micro-organisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. Probiotics play an integral role in maintaining healthy gut function by preventing the invasion of harmful microbes. They are also involved in the synthesis of important nutrients such as vitamin K and short chain fatty acids.
The word pro-biotic actually means ‘pro-life’, so where possible, choose the foods that are life giving to your health.
The main ingredient of sauerkraut is cabbage and salt.
To every 1 kg of cabbage use 15 g (1 tablespoon) of salt.
Use a good unrefined salt rich in minerals such as Celtic sea salt.
If you make sauerkraut often, it’s worth Investing in a good quality fermenting crock-pot which will make sauerkraut making a breeze. I have an awesome one at home from MS -Steinzeugwaren in Germany.
1 kg cabbage – 1 large cabbage
1 tablespoons Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt
3 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
Wash the cabbage and remove the outer leaves.
Grate or slice the cabbage finely.
Weigh the cabbage and weigh out the correct amount of salt.
Layer the cabbage and salt in your fermenting crock-pot or a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, massaging each layer as you go.
As you massage the cabbage will start to soften and release water. This will take about 15 minutes. There should be about 5 cm of juices on top of the cabbage. If this does not happen make up a salt water mixture of 15 g of sea salt to 1 liter of water and add a little of it to the crock-pot only if necessary.
Add the bay leaves and peppercorns.
If using a fermenting pot, put the weights on top of the cabbage, submerging it beneath the liquid. Then place the lid on top and follow manufacturers instructions.
Store sauerkraut in a glass jar in the fridge.
Or alternatively – Pack the cabbage tightly into a sterilised jar, pressing down into the jar as you pack it with cabbage.
The cabbage should be completely submerged in the brine you’ve created.
Seal the lid and place the sauerkraut in a dark spot at room temperature for a least 1 week.
Refrigerate then enjoy.
Other vegetables and aromatics can be added for colour and nutritional benefit.
Choose from carrots or different coloured cabbage. My great aunty used to add a few bay leaves and black pepper corns to her mix.
HOW TO ENJOY:
1 Perfect with fresh made green salads such as Kale Salad – Superfood Tabouli
2 Add as a side to smashed organic eggs or scrambled eggs and sautéed greens + a little Dijon mustard.
3 Make an open Reuben style sandwich with sourdough rye and top with avo, cured ocean trout, cucumber ribbon and top with sauerkraut.