Earlier this year, I attended a fermentation workshop with Fran & Jude. Out of all the fabulous recipes they shared, Sauerkraut has become a staple for me. I love the salty sour taste and fermented foods can have a beneficial effect on our microbiome (the 2-3lbs of ‘friendly’ bacteria which live in our gut doing invaluable work helping our immune system, making vitamins, hormones, etc).
I’ve been asked to share the secrets of making your own successful batch, so here’s how I do it:
- an organic or home-grown cabbage (you don’t want any chemicals in the mix as it may affect fermentation). You can use any variety of cabbage – I prefer to use red as it has the added benefit of even more antioxidant nutrients)
- pure sea salt (preferably unrefined or ‘grey’ – you can buy it locally here)
- seasonings – to taste and definitely optional – choose from: a bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 6 juniper berries, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 cloves, 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 tsp celery seeds, clove of garlic, a few chilli flakes, half an onion.
- Remove any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage. Then remove and keep two whole large leaves (these will form a lid later).
- Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the hard core.
- Weigh the remaining cabbage and calculate how much sea salt to use – 10g (two teaspoons) per 1kg of cabbage.
- Slice the cabbage finely, put it into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the sea salt.
- Wash your hands with natural soap and hot water (don’t use strong smelling or antibacterial soap!).
- Now knead and massage and pound the cabbage with your hands until it’s about half the volume and there’s a few tablespoons of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. This can take 10 minutes or more.
- Add the seasonings (if using) and mix well.
- Pack the cabbage into a clean jar. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover it completely. If not, go back and knead it some more.
- Cover the cabbage with the saved outer leaves.
- Weight the cabbage down so it all remains below the liquid – I use a glass jammed in the lid (see pic) *this bit is really important*
- Seal the jar and place it in a warm, dark place – I use the kitchen cupboard next to the dishwasher. You can start to eat the sauerkraut whenever you like – the longer you leave it, the more it ferments. I leave mine 4-6 weeks.
- When it’s at the required fermentation (tangyness), store it in the fridge.
- Eat with everything!
**If at any time your sauerkraut grows a mould which is any colour other than pure white, compost the whole lot! White mould can be scraped off.**