Sauerkraut is a wonder. This fermented food is full of benefits for your health. It's an anti-inflammatory, probiotic food that supplies you with antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins K and C, calcium, potassium and phosphorus (try saying that fast)... AND it’s surprisingly simple to make, using as few as two ingredients!
Traditional foods are those in their most natural state, unadulterated and unrefined. It is these real, whole, nourishing foods enjoyed for generation upon generation that provide the cells of our bodies with the necessary fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients needed for vibrant health. Many traditional foods are fermented.
Fermentation is one of the most beneficial food preparation methods. Originally used to naturally preserve foods for longer before refrigerators and canning machines existed, this technique naturally alters the chemistry of food. It is now recognised that the process produces probiotics in sauerkraut that are beneficial for immune, cognitive, digestive and endocrine function in the body.
The live and active probiotics found in sauerkraut have positive effects on the health of your digestive tract, which is home to a large portion of your immune system. These probiotics help to protect you against harmful bacteria and toxins that enter your body. Having these good bacteria living in your gut has been shown to reduce the risk of many acute and chronic illnesses.
A 2006 report in The Journal of Applied Microbiology stated that this includes: brain disorders, mental illness, digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, cancer, asthma, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, food allergies and sensitivities, obesity, and various autoimmune diseases.
Probiotic rich foods, such as sauerkraut, also:
-control hormone production
-control the rate of inflammation
-support digestion and absorption of nutrients
-target toxins living in your digestive tract and detoxify the body
-improve immune function
-helps to handle stress as they assist the control of hormonal production
-support cognitive health and brain function
To improve digestion and increase the uptake of all the nutrients on your plate have at a few tablespoons of this traditional food along with your lunch and dinner. Sauerkraut goes well in cooked dishes, salads and of course simply as a deliciously crunchy, sour condiment. So let's get fermenting!
We all love sauerkraut at home. It is quite expensive to buy.... but so cheap to make at home! The essentials for making sauerkraut are really just cabbage, salt and a container, but to ensure good results we have a slightly more explanatory, but still simple, recipe to start you off:
Makes 4-6 cups
1 green cabbage (preferably organic)
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of Himalayan salt (not table salt!)
1 Tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
Knife, mandolin or food processor
A couple of wide-mouth mason jars
Smaller jars that fit inside the larger mason jars
Clean stones, marbles, or other small weights
Twine or strong rubber bands
- Steralize all the jars and utensils with boiling water. Wash your hands and be sure to wash of all the soap residue. It is important when fermenting to provide a clean environment for the beneficial bacteria
- Put the outer leaves of the cabbage to the side. Cut into wedges and remove the core. Cut across the wedges to make very thin slivers or press wedges into food processor.
- In a large bowl combine the cabbage and salt. Using your hands, squeeze the cabbage and massage the salt into it. After about 5-10 minutes the cabbage should become limp and watery.
- Add caraway seeds for flavour (optional).
- Tightly pack the cabbage into your mason jars, pressing down as you go and pour any excess liquid in with it. Leave plenty of space for the smaller jar.
- Place one of the larger cabbage leaves over the packed cabbage to keep it submerged. Fill the smaller jar with weights and put on top of the cabbage.
- Use the cloth to cover the mouth of the mason jar and secure with twine or rubber bands
- Press down on the cabbage every few hours for the next 24 hours. This will release more liquid from the cabbage, covering it better. Note: If the liquid is not completely covering the cabbage after this stage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to the jar to submerge the cabbage.
- Allow the cabbage to ferment for roughly 3-10 days away from direct sunlight and at a consistent temperature (ideally 18-23ºC). Hot water cupboards are good. Check daily that cabbage is submerged.
- After the first 3 days begin tasting the sauerkraut once a day and when it tastes good to you, remove the inner jar and top leaf, secure the jar lid and refrigerate.
- It's ready to eat. Enjoy!
-Getting step 6 right can make or break your kraut. Make sure the cabbage stays well submerged below the juices.
-During fermentation, bubbles, foam or white scum are normal. Just skim it off the top during the process or before refrigerating.
-If you see mould remove it and cabbage near the top of the jar/affected area immediately. Ensure the remaining cabbage is submerged and it should still be fine to eat.
-Sauerkraut will store well for at least two months and longer if refrigerated.
There are plenty of other recipes if you want to spice up your sauerkraut. Make Sauerkraut! has delicious recipes for several flavour variations, including: Kimchi Style, Passion Pink, Ginger Carrot, Sweet Garlic & Dilly Delight. Yum!