How to Make Sauerkraut
I had been gifted with a huge organic cabbage from my mom’s weekly vegetable box.
What would one do with such a large cabbage? Make sauerkraut, of course!
Cabbage provides us with tons of benefits, this cruciferous vegetable is made up mostly of fibre and water. But it sure does contain LARGE amounts of nutrients in that hard, pungent, veggie ball of goodness.
There are more than 475 studies that have shown this vegetables role in cancer prevention due to the unique content of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and glucosinolates (sulphur component in pungent plants).
A ½ cup serving provides about 50 mg of polyphenols (antioxidants). Without sufficient intake of antioxidants, our oxygen metabolism can become compromised and we can experience “oxidative stress”. This is a huge risk for the development of cancer, since cancer cannot survive in an oxygenated environment.
The juice from cabbage is also praised for healing stomach ulcers, but this juice is valuable for healing the entire digestive tract due to its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and content of the amino acid, glutamine.
Now that’s just the benefits of cabbage, let’s look at what the deal is with sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is the process of lactic acid fermentation, which transforms the salt and cabbage into sauerkraut. The process of fermentation enhances nutrient properties and also has the added benefit of thriving probiotics which build a happy gut flora. Sauerkraut particularly has increased levels of vitamin's C and B, beneficial enzymes and friendly bacteria, opposed to cabbage in its raw form.
Good bacteria will colonize in the gut and will train and support the immune system in manufacturing vitamins in your digestive tract as well as optimizing overall digestion. Many of our GI tracts are overruled by “bad bacteria” which depress the immune system, are linked to IBS, diarrhea, dermatitis, mood, food allergies, insulin resistance, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
How to Make Sauerkraut
Makes 1-2 large jars
What you need:
1 medium cabbage, shredded
1 tbsp fine himalayan salt
Fermenting Crock, Mason Jars with
What to do:
-Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and slice into quarters. Cut out the thick core and continue to shred your cabbage into very long & thin slices, either by hand or in a food processor
-Toss your cabbage into a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt. Begin to squeeze, knead and massage the cabbage until it becomes limp and juicy. This process breaks up the cabbages cellular structure! Getting the liquid out of the cabbage can take about 5 minutes of intense massaging (you will actually hear the cabbage juice bubbling at some point).
-When you begin to see bubbles and a pool of juice, add in any optional flavourings (see below for recommendations)
-Now it's time to pack the juicy cabbage into a large glass mason jar or a fermentation crock. Pack the cabbage down as tightly as you can, eliminating air bubbles. Use a sauerkraut pounder or improvise with a spatula or spoon to pack the cabbage tight so that the juice covers the cabbage completely. Your cabbage MUST be completely submerged in the juice, this is the most crucial step for a successful ferment.
-If using a mason jar, now is the time to screw on an kraut kap which is designed to create an anaerobic environment to ensure you do not grow bad bacteria. I have used regular mason jar lids before, however the likelihood of the sauerkraut turning out bad is higher, with that being said: trial and error is often beneficial for beginners - proper equipment just makes it easier!
-Store at room temperature in a dark space to ferment. If you have a fermenting rock or another idea (such as a small mason jar filled with water) to keep the kraut weighed down, this prevents having to disturb the fermentation process by opening the lid and pushing the kraut down below the brine.
-Leave to ferment for at least 4 weeks and for up to 6 months, the longer you leave it the stronger it will be.
-You can then keep the kraut at room temperature and enjoy for up to 8-weeks, or you can transfer to the refrigerator which can increase the shelf life to at least 6 months, but up to 1-year! Some master fermenter's believe using a refrigerator to store is unnecessary and affects the probiotics within, you can do whatever you are comfortable with.
-Don't forget to drink the juice! This is your gut shot! Add it to your salad dressings or take it in a shot glass.
-If a scum is floating in the brine of your sauerkraut, simply spoon that sucker out. If solid materials aren’t resting below liquid, this is how the bad bacteria forms. Everything below the liquid will not be affected by any 'mean' microbes which may be multiplying above the liquid. Using a fermenting crock or mason jars with proper kraut lids eliminates the risk of microbial contamination.
-Fermentation is an art: if it smells off, and tastes off, it’s probably off... Then throw that kraut, out!
Add Some Flavour-Flav!
- Add 1 tbsp dried dill
- Add 1 tbsp dried dill and 5 cloves garlic, minced
- Add 5 cloves minced garlic, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp whole celery seeds, ½ tsp ground black pepper