Homemade Sauerkraut

There are certain moments in my day when one of two thoughts will enter my mind... Either, one, "Wow. Have I really gone this hippy?" or two, "Wow. I never used to do this. Ever."

Eating fermented food is one of those moments. I don't think I had ever eaten a single fermented vegetable in my life until a year ago, and before then I probably couldn't tell you what fermented foods even were.

And so it came as quite a surprise to me (as I think it would to most Americans) that fermented foods are eaten all over the world as a central part of traditional diets. In the book The Art of Fermentation (does the fact that I'm reading that book also clue you in to my hippy-status??) Sandor Ellix Katz states that "as much as one-third of all food eaten by human beings worldwide is fermented." For centuries, fermentation has been used to preserve food, increase nutritional value, and make food more digestible and less toxic. It's an integral part of many, many cultures.

Sooooooo… why not America? Why does our everyday diet not include whole, life-giving superfoods? Why are we so fixated on processed, nutrient-stripped, chemically altered foods. Probably lots of reasons.

Maybe I'll write a post about that someday. But TODAY I am excited about the SAUERKRAUT!!

Fermentation really is a simple concept. Bacteria are allowed to eat up the natural sugars in foods, and in the process, transforms it into a superfood packed with active enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and easily digestible nutrients. It's magic, really. And extraordinarily good for your health.

For example, eating sauerkraut about 10 minutes before a meal helps stimulate stomach acid production, making the upcoming meal more easily digested (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, 196). The live and active bacteria also bolster beneficial bacteria in the gut and eliminate opportunistic (i.e. evil) bacteria. Katz states, "In live-cultured foods, we ingest bacteria that help digest food and produce a multiplicity of protective compounds as they pass through our intestines. They and their various products enrich the microbial ecology of our intestines, enabling us to get more from our food and discouraging pathogenic bacteria by their presence."

sauerkraut2-2

The great thing is that fermented food is one of the easiest healing essentials you can make. You need the following:

Some glass jars

Some cabbage

Some carrots

Some water

Some salt

See?? Easy. Now let's get started.

sauerkraut1. Process, grate, or slice thinly some cabbage and carrots. (I usually use a half head of cabbage and about 3 carrots)

2. In a large bowl, combine the carrots and cabbage with 1 Tbsp of salt. Mix with your hands and let it sit for 15 minutes to let the salt draw out the juices.

3. Knead the mixture with your hands to release the juices. Squeeze and mix and knead until the mixture becomes juicy! 

sauerkraut-24. Pack the vegetable mixture and its juices into the glass jars. Press it firmly to get as many air bubbles out as possible.

5. Fill with filtered water up to the shoulder of the jar (you need to leave some room for the vegetables to expand)

6. Stick a spoon or knife around the edges of the glass jar, all the way to the bottom, to help release any air bubbles caught in the jar. Do this for a few minutes, getting all the air bubbles out that you can see.

sauerkraut-37. Place a cabbage leaf on top of the vegetables, and some glass weights on top to keep it submerged (My creative set-ups often include glass marbles!). Make sure there is at least 2 cm of space above the water to give from for the sauerkraut to expand during fermentation.

sauerkraut28. Seal with a lid or cloth tied with a rubber band

9. Leave on the counter for 1-2 weeks!!!

Homemade Sauerkraut

Prep time: 10 min Servings: about 2 pints

Ingredients:

1/2 head cabbage

2-3 carrots

1 Tbsp salt

Filtered water

Directions:

1. Process, grate, or slice thinly some cabbage and carrots. ( I usually use a half head of cabbage and about 3 carrots)

2. In a large bowl, combine the carrots and cabbage with 1 Tbsp of salt. Mix with your hands and let it sit for 15 minutes to let the salt draw out the juices.

3. Knead the mixture with your hands to release the juices. Squeeze and mix and knead until the mixture becomes juicy!

4. Pack the vegetable mixture and its juices into the glass jars. Press it firmly to get as many air bubbles out as possible.

5. Fill with filtered water up to the shoulder of the jar (you need to leave some room for the vegetables to expand)

6. Stick a spoon or knife around the edges of the glass jar, all the way to the bottom, to help release any air bubbles caught in the jar. Do this for a few minutes, getting all the air bubbles out that you can see.

7. Place a cabbage leaf on top of the vegetables, and some glass weights on top to keep it submerged (I often use glass marbles!) Make sure there is at least 2 cm of space above the water to give from for the sauerkraut to expand during fermentation. 

8. Seal with a lid or cloth tied with a rubber band and leave on the counter for 1-2 weeks!!!

Resources

http://wellnessmama.com/2245/health-benefits-fermented-foods/    health benefits
http://fermup.com/blog/      fermentation blog and podcasts
http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/lacto-fermentation/      information on fermenting
http://www.domesticdiva.ca/blog/29-kid-friendly-ways-to-get-cultured-foods-into-your-childs-diet/   blog post on how to incorporate fermented foods into your diet
http://www.fermentersclub.com/      fermenting resource website
http://www.wildfermentation.com/      website dedicated to all things fermentation

2 Responses to “Homemade Sauerkraut

  • You can add whey and reduce the salt. By adding red pepper flakes and oregano, it becomes Salvadorean Curtido. Or add ginger and garlic with the red pepper flakes to make Kimchee. With green onions, soy sauce and lemon juice, it becomes Tsukemono.Change the cabbage to spinach, chard, or kale for a completely different kind of kraut. So many possibilities!

    • amoffat
      2 years ago

      Oh I can’t wait to try some of those varieties! I was so new to fermenting vegetables, it was kind of a strange taste to me, but I’ve found that I really like it! I still haven’t branched out a ton to try new varieties, so this will be so helpful! The hard part is waiting a few days to try it;)

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *