SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 4, 2014

Easy [fermented] Kraut

From John Gallagher over at Learning Herbs.  Got this recipe from his Recipe Archives

The Easiest Fermented recipe I’ve found – so far.

A sauerkraut recipe that has amazing health benefits

Sauerkraut recipeOur weekly box of vegetables from the farm is quite well stocked this time of year, and one common item right now is cabbage. Last week I got a beautiful head of white cabbage, and decided to make some Sauerkraut. I headed to my recipe box for my favorite sauerkraut recipe.

That is one of my favorite things to do this time of year. Not only do I enjoy the taste of the finished product, I love the health benefits of eating such a delicious fermented food and I truly enjoy the process of making the sauerkraut.

In his book, Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz highlights the following as some of the benefits of eating fermented foods in addition to having great recipes such as a great sauerkraut recipe:

  • Nutrient Preservation – (cabbage can be stored much longer as sauerkraut)
  • Makes foods more easily digested by breaking down complex proteins or components like lactose that can be difficult to digest
  • Creates new nutrients, especially B vitamins
  • Some fermented foods function as antioxidants
  • Some toxins are removed from foods through the fermentation process

And, finally, the benefit that I think of the most is that eating live, fermented foods supplies our digestive tracts with “living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.”

In a lecture called Optimum Nutrition, Susun Weed speaks of how each nutrient needs a specific micro-organism to transport it to the cells in the body where it will be used, so it is vitally important to our health that we maintain a healthy population of these micro-organisms.

So, how can you make this delicious, nutritious sauerkraut at home? What’s our favorite sauerkraut recipe?

Well, you will need for this sauerkraut recipe is a large bowl or plastic bucket, a glass jar or crock, some kind of pounder, a wood or plastic follower (a plastic lid that fits inside your crock or jar), a weight (could simply be a jar of water or rocks), cabbage, and kosher salt.

Sauerkraut recipe

Sandor Katz recommends 3 Tablespoons of salt for 5 pounds of cabbage, but also says that he uses more salt in the summer and less in the winter. So, look at the 3 tablespoons as a place to start experimenting.

To start this sauerkraut recipe, remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside.

Cut the head(s) into quarters and remove the cores. Then, slice the cabbage thinly (about the thickness of a dime).

Place the cut cabbage in the bowl or bucket, adding salt as you go so that the salt is layered with the cabbage.

Pound the cabbage with a your pounder (I used the plunger for my Vitamix – be creative here, a clean baseball bat can work…) to bruise the cabbage and draw out the juice. This is a great step to involve kids. Rowan always enjoys pounding the cabbage. Pound the cabbage until it becomes somewhat translucent and there is plenty of cabbage juice at the bottom of the bowl. Kids have loads of fun making this sauerkraut recipe.

Sauerkraut recipe

I added salt as I pounded, continually tasting the cabbage until it tasted strongly of salt, perhaps adding 6 teaspoons for my one head of cabbage.

Place the cabbage into a glass jar or crock and put the outer cabbage leaves on top. Now place your follower on top of that and a weight on top of it all. I used a plastic lid as a follower, and a jar with some rocks in it for a weight. Just use what you can find.

Your jar may not look full of liquid like the jar below. That’s ok. There are directions below about ading brine after 24 hours.

Sauerkraut recipe

Sauerkraut recipe

Sauerkraut recipe

Cover the jar or crock with a dishtowel and let it sit at room temperature for a day.

Sauerkraut recipe

After 24 hours, if there is not enough brine to cover the cabbage by 1 inch, (This will protect the kraut from airborne bacteria) make a brine solution by dissolving 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 quart of boiling water and pour over the cabbage.

Sauerkraut recipe

Replace the cabbage leaves, follower, weight and dishtowel and let sit another 2 to 6 days. Taste it every few days and refrigerate it when it is as sour as you like it. This will stop the fermentation process, and the sauerkraut will last for months in your refigerator.

I hope you have wonderful success with this sauerkraut recipe.

(My Comment:

Just one simple aside;  I have been making fermented veggies year-round for some years now as there is no better way to insure healthy amounts of ALL  the B-Vitamins than with Fermented veggies.  I have never however, used salt in making them.  This recipe is calling for a lot of salt and need to pull out my Fallon book of “Nourishing Traditions.”  [every home should have that book] 

Well, she speaks of sea salt in the Tablespoons full.  She says that salt can be cut back if one is using lactobacilli as a starter. She has quite a lovely section on Fermentation.  In fact, when I started fermenting I did use starters which I bought from Donna Gates at Body Ecology from time to time.  I generally was able to transfer much of that precious juice the whey makes from one batch to the next to insure that it was fully powered.   Anyway, this recipe sounds ultra simple, easy and kinda fun to do, so I will give it a go.   Jan)

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