The word sauerkraut is from Austria, sauer (sour) and kraut (greens or plants), but every culture (no pun intended) all over the world has always had some form of fermented food as part of their traditional diet. Unpasteurized fermented foods are full of probiotics, enzymes, and lactic acid. They are absolutely amazing for building and maintaining intestinal gut flora, aiding digestion, increasing longevity, detoxifying and alkalizing the body and strengthening our overall immune system. The sour taste is one of the six essential tastes that we should be incorporating into our daily menu, as a little bit of fermented food (and this also includes miso and kimchee) makes whatever else we’re eating more digestible. Most likely why traditional heavier foods such as bread, sausage and cheese are most often served with sauerkraut!
We’ve given you this easy recipe, with step by step photos because homemade is not only cheaper, it’s also much healthier than storebought sauerkraut that’s usually pasteurized and therefore void of all the great benefits we’ve listed above.So have fun growing your own cultured foods and definitely let us know what yummy and unique combinations of vegetables and spices you come up with. We’ve given you some of our favorites below, and would love to read your comments!
- 5 lbs cabbage (green or red)
- 2-3 tablespoons sea saltoptional: culture starter* (will move the fermentation process along more quickly, but it’s also fine to ferment without the use of cultures)
- *Chef’s Note: You can purchase vegetable culture starters from companies like Cultures for Health. In health food stores you can purchase multi strain probiotics and use 2 capsules per batch of sauerkraut. These probiotics are usually kept in a small fridge near the supplement section. Also, you can use some of the liquid from raw cultured vegetables as an inoculant.
- also optional: caraway seeds,fennel seeds, shredded carrots, dulse, chili peppers, cumin seeds, turmeric
- Thinly slice the cabbage and place into a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle in the salt and begin to massage the cabbage.
- Continue massaging so that the salt begins to pull the liquid from the cabbage.
- This liquid will become your brine, which acts as a barrier against any unsavory bacteria during the fermentation process. Work in any of your optional ingredients and the optional starter.When the cabbage is nicely wilted and a lot of liquid begins pooling around it, begin packing it into a large glass jar or fermentation crock. Be sure to push the cabbage down forcefully with your fist or a tamper/mallet/etc. This will continue to create more brine.
- Once all the cabbage is in the fermenting vessel, pour the brine in and place a clean rock or heavy jar on top of the cabbage (we used a small bottle filled with water), then cover the jar with a cloth or towel. Label it somehow with the date you started it, then store in a dark area of your home.
- Allow to ferment for 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on your preferences. The longer it goes, the softer the cabbage will get and the more good bacteria will be present, which will make your gut super happy!
Once complete, you can continue to add to it and store the continued fermenting cabbage (and other veggies if you like) in a cool space for months or years, feeding you and your family for literally pennies!
Chef Franky G’s favorite combination: cabbage, onions, carrots, chili peppers and ginger
Clean Coach and Blog Coordinator Jenny’s favorite: cabbage, carrots, fennel, juniper berries and caraway seeds
Our dear friend and Program Director of Food Programs at Sustainable Table Destin Layne’s favorite: cabbage, beets, juniper berries and caraway seeds
Clean Wellness Coach Shannon’s favorite: kimchee (which is so delicious sounding, we’re going to be featuring her recipe here soon, so stay tuned!)