Sauerkraut, sour cabbage, is a german lacto fermented cabbage dish. In the 18th Century Captain James Cook used sauerkraut to prevent the death of his sailors from scurvy but Germany’s sauerkraut is actually a version of chinese kraut, brought to Europe by the hoards of Gengis Khan.
Raw cabbage is implicated in depressed thyroid functioning, while fermented cabbage and other vegetables provide many health benefits and should not be under estimated for their healing powers. Sally Fallon in her book, Nourishing Traditions provides some excellent instructions on the fermentation of vegetables and fruits, in addition to grains, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.
Basic Recipe for Sauerkraut
- 1 litre glass jar with plastic lid or spring lid
- 1 Cabbage Medium sized (1kg)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons of Kefir whey (you may use already fermented sauerkraut for an innoculant or simply add another tablespoon of salt.)
- 1 tablespoon of carraway seeds or fresh chopped dill.
Germans have always sliced the cabbage with a specially made machine and pounded them with a wooden mortar in a large crock to bruise the cell walls.
Grate cabbage with a hand grater or process in a food processor, then mix in a large food grade plastic bucket (get them at a hardware store) with the salt and Kefir whey. Pound with a meat mallot or wooden pounder of some kind. I’ve been known to use a pick handle, a clean one of course. Pound until the juices cause suction when you pull the pounder out of the mix.
Press the mixture into a clean glass jar using a wooden spoon. Press firmly until the juice rises to the top and covers the mixture, which it will do when it is pounded enough. Leave at least one inch or more of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.
Cover the kraut and store the jar in a cupboard for 3-5 days (depending on the ambient temperature) before transferring to the refrigerator. The sauerkraut may be consumed after a couple of weeks, though if you allow the fermentation process to continue for a month or so in the refrigerator you will be well rewarded with a most delicious flavour. I love sauerkraut at 4 months old.
As with all fermenting, follow your nose. If it smells putrid or you have any doubts about the quality, then discard the sauerkraut and start again.
Commonly Asked Questions Answered by Sally Fallon
Question: In Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat Lose Fat, the sauerkraut instruction is to place cabbage in a tightly closed jar, with expansion room. However, in Wild Fermentation, the instruction is to add a weight (e.g., a smaller jar filled with water) to keep cabbage below liquid line. This also is the instruction with my Harsch crock (custom weights) and the practice of old-timers with board and plate (for weight). Is the cabbage (recipe with closed lid and no weights) safe from problems because of the closed lid? We noticed the shredded cabbage did expand in closed lid process, which lifted kraut above the liquid line during three days. No kahm yeast appeared, so we ate even kraut above liquid line.
Answer: There are many ways to make sauerkraut, With my method, you push down into the jar with a pounder and don’t really need weights.
Question: Young children aren’t fond of the caraway flavor. I understand caraway is a fermentation aid. Can we just add extra salt or whey instead?
Answer: there are many ways to do sauerkraut–the caraway is not necessary.
Question: Is there increased nutritional/probiotic benefit from fermenting kraut longer than three days? Does it continue to grow good properties in refrigerator, or is the ‘fridge time’ only a flavor/texture enhancement?
Answer: Hard to say, more research is needed! It will definitely get more sour if you leave it longer, so it is really a matter of taste.
About the Author...
A Super Hero and one of many who have realised their true calling as saviors of humanity, healers of our connection with Nature and creators of Heaven on Earth. The Nourisher's gift is the re-spiritualisation of the 'process of recreation' we call eating. Mother of three Super Heroes in training and wife to her God incarnate, The Nourisher hails from the place of feminine healing, Byron Bay, Australia. She gathers together Life Creators from all over the globe at NourishedMagazine.com.au