Mmmh Sauerkraut... you either love it or you hate it. As a German, it is in my blood to love it :-). Every fall I make a big batch of sauerkraut to add to my daily lunch and dinner bowls. Sauerkraut is an amazing source of healthy bacteria - also called probiotics. They are responsible for superb digestion and a healthy immune system. Building your immune system is a year long commitment, but making extra efforts now in the fall can be really helpful to survive the cold and flu season.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. You can add other veggies like beets or carrots to the fermentation process, to make the sauerkraut more interesting. Spices like caraway seeds or cumin can help with the digestion of the sauerkraut. Making a raw version at home is super easy, and requires only a few minutes of actual hands on time. Then you let the fermentation process do all the work for 10 days, and you have a delicious jar of sauerkraut whenever you crave some.
If you want to buy your sauerkraut, make sure you choose a raw kind. In the heated versions some of the good bacteria can be destroyed.
Here are a few tips to make sure your sauerkraut making is successful:
Clean your hands and equipment properly before starting to grate and handle the cabbage. You don't want to transfer any bad bacteria, which will ruin your sauerkraut making endeavors.
Use a glass jar with a rubber seal to make sure air can get out during the fermentation. I like to use the Korken jar from Ikea. I use the bigger one (1.8l/ 1.9 qt) for the 10 days of fermenting, so there is plenty of space to continue to press down. Then I transfer the sauerkraut into the smaller 1l / 34oz jar for storage in the refrigerator.
Make sure the cabbage is always submerged in the liquid. You can continue to open the jar over the 10 days to press the cabbage down further.
If white foam forms on top, you can skim this off. It is completely normal.
If you see mold forming, skim it off immediately, and make sure none of the other cabbage was affected by the mold. Don't eat the moldy parts.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Softening time: 1 hour
Fermentation time: 10 days
Makes 1 jar (1l/ 34oz):
1 head of red cabbage (preferably organic if you can find it)
1½ Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp caraway seeds (or cumin seeds)
8 juniper berries (optional)
1 large glass jar with rubber seal (see above)
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Discard the limp ones, and save a few fresher ones to cover the sauerkraut with later.
Grate the red cabbage on big grating holes, and place in a big bowl.
Sprinkle salt over the cabbage, add the caraway seeds and juniper berries, and massage for a minute. You will feel the cabbage soften, and liquid will start to come out. Let the cabbage sit in the bowl for an hour to draw out more liquid. The cabbage will soften during this time.
While the cabbage is softening, sterilize your jar. You can submerge the jar and ring in water in a pot, then boil the water for 15 minutes. Let it dry on a clean kitchen towel and cool off before using. Or use the easier version that I like to do, which is clean the jar and ring thoroughly, then transfer onto a baking tray, and pop in oven at 110ºC/ 225ºF for at least 15 minutes. Take out, let it cool off on a clean kitchen towel, then fill it. Either way, the jar and lid will be extremely hot to touch, so use oven mitts!
Put the cabbage in the jar, pressing down firmly with your fist. Pour in all the juice that was drawn out, so that the cabbage is fully submerged. Then use the fresh leaves and cover the cabbage, pressing down once more with your fist.
Close the jar, and place in a cool, dark spot. Wait for 10 days, and voila, you have sauerkraut! Remove the leaves on top and discard. The sauerkraut will keep in the fridge for 1-2 months, depending on how often you open it and let air in. As long as it tastes good, you can eat it.
I love to add it to salads, top my avocado toast with it, and make lunch bowls like this one delicious with it.
To a healthy winter!