Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, when prepared and eaten raw, is wonderfully healthy. It contains lactic acid and living probiotics which restore one's gut flora. Cultures whose diets regularly consume lacto-fermented foods (ie: Japanese) are known to boast anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits. Glucosinolates in cabbage decrease cell damage and cell mutation... so I like to think of sauerkraut (and a variety of other fermented foods) as an immunity booster and fortifier. I love how the tangy, salty brine works as an impromptu salad dressing. And, how crunchy and sour the cabbage turns over time. This raw lunch bowl packs shredded beet, broccoli sprouts, shredded swiss chard, half an avocado, a yellow tomato, and the tangy cabbage. Having jars of sprouting, soaking, or fermenting foods tucked into the corners of your kitchen quite literally brings your house alive. It's fun to have little projects on the go; ready to be checked on each time you walk in the door. I've been experimenting with the same lacto-fermentation process on zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and more. Stay tuned.

For now, here is a simple, DIY, small-batch of sauerkraut. One medium cabbage made enough to fill 2 big mason jars.

  • 1 medium cabbage 
  • 1 large carrot 
  • 1.5 tbs kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds 

  1. Core and shred cabbage. Shred carrots. Place in a big bowl. 
  2. Sprinkle salt on top and begin to massage vegetables. Don't be gentle. Use your strength to crunch and pound the cabbage. It will take about 10 minutes, so get comfy and watch your favourite show.
  3. The volume will reduce by half (see picture) and a lot of liquid will be produced. At this stage, add the caraway seeds and work them in.  
  4. Pack handfuls of the mix into sterilized mason jars. Handful in, pack down, liquid rises, repeat...Make sure the liquid is covering all pieces of vegetable to avoid mold. Make sure the rim of the jar is clean. 
  5. *Optional: if you are short on liquid, you can weigh-down the vegetables (causing the liquid to rise) with little weights. I used a mini-jar filled with beans. 
  6. Place in an undisturbed spot of your kitchen. Leave uncovered, or only with its cap rested on top. Wait a few days: 4 days - 1.5 weeks depending on how tangy you like your sauerkraut. It will get stronger an smellier the longer you let it sit. Pop a cap on the jar and store in the fridge when it's ready. You can also freeze sauerkraut. 


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