Sauerkraut made in its simplest form contains two ingredients – cabbage and salt. A rather uninspiring pair, which may evoke memories of your Grandmothers overcooked cabbage soup, foul smelling and anemic. Poor ole cabbage is underrated though; it is cheap and cheerful, lasts weeks happily in your fridge and when cared for, adds crunch, life and bulk to an array of dishes. Lets give it a chance.
Sauerkraut brings cabbage to life - when shredded and massaged vigorously with a small amount of salt, something magical happens. The cabbage almost cooks in your hands, reducing in size and imparting a briny liquid. This transformation is the first step of fermentation, a curious process that helps to preserve vegetables.
Fermenting your own vegetables can be a daunting concept for some but when you know the basics it really couldn’t be simpler and will open up a new world of possibilities when it comes to transforming humble vegetables. Sauerkraut is punchy, acidic and satisfyingly crunchy and can be used to add vigour to a number of meals. As well as tasting delicious, the fermentation process means your body will prosper from a number of health benefits too. Most importantly gut health – and as my Father would say, “A healthy gut, means a healthy mind.”
This sauerkraut recipe is aromatic and citrusy and is a great way for anyone to begin their journey into the exciting world of fermentation. The turmeric stains the cabbage, giving it a sunburnt golden appearance and ginger, garlic and chilli work harmoniously with the cabbage and carrot, to give it a welcoming zing.
- White cabbage, 1 large
- Carrots, 3 large
- Ginger, 3 Tbs, grated
- Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
- Turmeric powder, 1 tsp
- Fennel seeds, 2 tsp
- Chili flakes, 1 tsp
- Lemon, 1, juice
- Celtic sea salt, 1 Tbs
Discard the thick woody outer leaves of the cabbage and wash well. Slice the cabbage finely by hand, using a mandolin or with a slicer attachment on a food processor. Place into a large bowl.
Peel the carrots and grate, add to the bowl with the cabbage.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
Mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure everything is coated well. Then start to massage the cabbage mixture – the salt should draw out the moisture of the cabbage and begin to get juicy and soft. Keep massaging until the cabbage shrinks in size and the mixture is nice and juicy.
Place cabbage mixture into sterilized jars, making sure the vegetables are packed tightly to avoid air from getting in. Cover the sauerkraut mixture with any remaining liquid left in the bowl.
Place some baking paper over the sauerkraut to make sure all the vegetables are bathing in the liquid and to prevent oxidation. Close with an airtight lid.
Leave the jars to ferment at room temperature for 2-4 weeks (depending on room temperature), 3 weeks is usually ideal. When the sauerkraut is ready it should be soft but still retain a crunch and have a fresh, aromatic and acidic taste.
During the fermentation process the vegetables will expand and liquid will try to escape from the jars. I usually put the jars in a bowl or a plastic bag to catch any juice that might drip from the sides.
Mix sauerkraut into salads for some extra punch. Great in sandwiches too. My favourite way of eating sauerkraut is in on toast with avocado and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.