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WHAT IS SAUERKRAUT?

Sauerkraut- If you haven’t already tried it, you’ve most definitely heard of this traditional German cabbage dish.  This condiment full of beneficial microbes and nutrients actually originated in China over 2000 years ago and is still popular today.

THE BENEFITS OF EATING SAUERKRAUT

Sauerkraut is not only tasty, but packed with benefits! The bacterial culture involved in the lacto-fermentation process (mainly Leuconostoc and Lactobacillus) pre-digest the cabbage making it easier for us to digest (no gas!!).   This increases the body’s efficiency in absorbing the nutrients (vitamins C,K , iron and fibre) from the cabbage.  In addition to the health benefits, sauerkraut adds a delicious tang, saltiness and crunch to dishes, available in a variety of flavours ranging from plain to kicked-up curry.

HOW TO EAT SAUERKRAUT

Sauerkraut was my first foray into lacto-fermentation.  It is one of the easiest, most forgiving fermented foods to make.  Sauerkraut is also a favourite of my husband who uses it to top off his standard lunch of ground chicken, lentils and veggies. We?ve eaten it on tacos (all types), burgers, wraps and grilled sandwiches.  Sauerkraut can be paired with almost any savory dish, and the combinations are endless, depending on your level of adventure and palate!

Sauerkraut in a clear bowl
sauerkraut with ground chicken, lentils and spinach

HOW TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT

Fermenting Time: 2 weeks-1 month

Ingredients

  • 1-2 heads of cabbage (red or green) (approx. 3 ? lbs./1.6 kg)
  • 3-4 tsp- up to 20g salt** (any non-iodized, pure variety)
  • Spices  (optional- caraway, fennel, curry powder, etc.)
  • Fermentation containers (quart size)
  • Fermentation weight

**Use 1- 1.5 tsp (5 -7.5g ) of salt/ 1 lb. (900g) of cut/shredded cabbage

****MAKE SURE ALL UTENSILS, VESSELS AND PREPARATION SURFACES HAVE BEEN THOROUGHLY CLEANED***

Directions
  1. Remove outer leaves of cabbage.  Slice in half and remove the core.  
cabbage
Outer leaves and core removed

2.Using a knife or food processor, slice the cabbage to your preference (finely cut cabbage will ferment more quickly, but coarser-cut pieces will create a crunchier kraut).

chopped-cabbage
Coarsely chopped red cabbage

3. Place sliced cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle in half the salt.  With CLEAN HANDS firmly massage half of the salt into the cabbage until incorporated.  Taste to check your desired level of saltiness.  Add the rest of the salt and continue massaging until you are able to squeeze liquid out of the cabbage.  Depending on the thickness and freshness of the cabbage, this will take 3-10 minutes.  At this point, you can add any spices, clean herbs or other washed vegetables.

squeezed-cabbage
Note the amount of liquid I squeezed out of the cabbage

4. Pack the mixture into a jar and firmly press down after each addition.  This will help to submerge the cabbage under the liquid and to free any trapped air bubbles.  Add any remaining liquid into the jar.  Leave at least a 1? space from the top of the cabbage to the mouth of the container, as the mixture will expand during fermentation.

packed-cabbage
Firmly pack down the mixture- make sure to use all the remaining liquid!

5. Let the mixture sit for a few hours to allow the liquid level to increase. If the mixture has not produced enough liquid to cover the cabbage, add a small amount of brine (distilled water + a ? tsp. salt) to completely cover it.  Use a fermentation weight to ensure the cabbage remains submerged under the liquid.  Place a lid on the container and place out of direct sunlight, ideally between 50-75? F (10-25?C).

Check on the kraut every few days.  After 2 -3 days, you should see bubbling and it will start to smell and taste sour (sample with a clean fork). The process will take from 4 days to 4 weeks, depending on your preference. Young sauerkraut will be crunchy and mild; older sauerkraut will have a stronger flavour.  When you are happy with the result, transfer the sauerkraut to the fridge to slow fermentation.

fermentation
4 Day-old sauerkraut: Super active-Look at those bubbles!!

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