Sauerkraut is likely the simplest fermented food to make and a great place to start, it was certainly my introduction to fermentation. I’ve always loved the taste of pickled beetroot from a young age and so I instantly fell in love with the flavour of Sauerkraut. I particularly like making purple kraut because I love its vibrant colour but green cabbages work just as well.
Sauerkraut originates from Germany but one of the first documented cases of its nutritional power was when the English Explorer James Cook took barrels of Sauerkraut aboard his ship. It is said that he reserved the Sauerkraut for the Officers knowing full well that the sailors would then be enticed to consume it. This was one of the first explorations where the sailors didn’t perish from scurvy, this is because Sauerkraut is packed full of Vitamin C (far more than an orange!). Prior to fermentation it was extremely difficult to keep food fresh with no refrigeration and near impossible aboard long boat rides. Read here for more of the health benefits of fermented foods.
The recipe below is a basic recipe for beginners but once you start, there are plenty of further delicious flavours to try:
- Other Vegetables – carrots, celery, squash, salad onions, garlic
- Add some orange rind and juice for a different flavour
- A little turmeric for anti-inflammatory health benefits
- Lemon juice and onions
- Chilli for an extra kick
There are so many variations, I hope you have a go and please write your creations or questions below in the comments section.
- 2 cabbage, any kind
- 2 tablespoon of sea salt not table salt
- 1 grated apple
- 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
- A mason jar
- Shred the cabbage in a food processor or using a knife and put in a bowl with the sea salt sprinkled on top.
- Kneed the cabbage in the bowl so that it releases some cabbage juice as it starts to break down with the salt added.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave for 5 hours.
- Pour the cabbage and juice into a mason jar and keep pushing it down until the juice comes over the top of cabbage. If it doesn't add a little water.
- Close jar and check on your kraut every few days
- You should see little bubbles rising and a foam forming on top, this is the cabbage fermenting and producing very potent probiotics.
- Taste kraut after 3 days if it tastes sour and to your liking it is done and if you are new to fermentation this is probably about the right strength to begin with.
- After 3-7 days refrigerate and consume.
- The sauerkraut will keep for years this way.
My cabbage has risen above the liquid and has some mould on top, is it safe to eat?
Scrape this off and discard, taste the submerged cabbage underneath, this should be fine as it will be under the liquid but let your taste buds guide you.
How long should I ferment for?
If you are new to fermentation I suggest 3 days as this will be strong enough. Most people will ferment for 7-10 days, I now like to ferment mine for about a month because I like it strong!
Is there anyone who shouldn’t eat sauerkraut?
It is safe for children, in fact you are helping to build their immune system but start with small amounts, add a little of the kraut juice to their food before serving. About 1% of the population will have histermine intolerance and fermented foods contain high levels of histermine (as do many other natural foods), if you feel adverse reactions stay reduce fermented foods while you find alternative ways to balance your histermine levels.
Can I add kraut to my cooking?
Cooking will kill the probiotic rich goodness so add sauerkraut to your dishes as the condiment.