When I first began eating and making fermented foods, I felt powerful. Fermenting anything is like making magic in a jar. You get to become a modern day kitchen alchemist. We help to transform simple foods into so much more.
Pirate Fact: Scurvy, a disease born of vitamin C deficiency, was a plague on long ship voyages until word spread that if the crew kept and ate sauerkraut while at sea, Scruvy was no longer a problem! When fermented, the vitamin C level in cabbage can increase 10-20 times it’s original value. A delicious crisp addition to any meal that will aid you in digestion and imbue your body with greater immunity through a more diverse gut ecology! Arrrrrr!
I love to experiment with different processing techniques, fermentation vessels and more. But, guess what, y’all? That means I have to knead lots and lots of cabbage. Squeezing cabbage gets pretty tiresome after a while.
One day, I had started a batch of sauerkraut and just as I had completed about a minute of kraut kneading, I got a phone call that prompted me to leave for the rest of the day. I threw a cloth over my bowl of cabbage and ran out the door. When I returned home and looked in on my cabbage, I was surprised to see that it was nicely broken down and almost ready to pack in jars. I mixed and kneaded it for 1-2 minutes and packed it away. In a week or so, beautiful kraut was enjoyed by all.
This reminds me that when I work in concert with mother nature instead of trying to bend her to my will, beautiful results are yielded to my table.
You can use this method with any combination of veggies to be fermented so, this post is more about the method than the recipe for how to make sauerkraut. When I recently shared this little trick at The Real Food Symposium (above) an excited gasp went up from the crowd. I hope you find it equally magical.
Traditional sauerkraut ingredients
- 1 head cabbage, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt – find good quality sea salt here
- 1 quart sized mason jar (If you used a large head of cabbage, you may be able to fill an additional small jar as well)
Traditional sauerkraut method
- Remove core from head of cabbage.
- Shred cabbage into thin ribbons with a knife or food processor.*
- Place shredded cabbage in bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sea salt over the cabbage.
- Knead/Squeeze the shredded cabbage for 1-3 minutes. Get into it! You are breaking the cabbage down and helping it to release its juices.
- Flatten the kraut into the bottom of your bowl and lay a clean tea towel over the bowl.
- Now, walk away and go about your day.
- At the end of your day (6-8 hours) at your convenience, knead your shredded cabbage for 1 more minute, mixing it all together.
- Add this soupy cabbage mixture to your fermentation vessel and press the cabbage down firmly. Really pack it in there. It should be 1 inch from the lid of your jar and should be covered at the top with the beautiful brine you have made.**
- Screw the lid on tight. Plastic lids will allow for expansion with greater ease than metal lids.
- Place your jar of culturing cabbage on a plate (to catch any brine that may be pushed out) and leave in a room temperature (70-85F) place for at least 1 week. When your kraut reaches desired fermentation (tart and crunchy), wipe up your jar and put it in the refrigerator.
*I like to thinly slice half the cabbage I’ll be using and grate the other half. It is the perfect mix and you can perform both of these in almost any food processor.
**Remember my Fermented Veggie Mantra: “Below the Brine is Fine”
Want to see me ridiculously excited about fermenting and demonstrating kraut making?
This post was generously contributed by Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee. Monica’s delicious recipes will make your mouth water and your tummy purr. If you’re lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, Real Food Devotee can make your life easier by delivering nutrient dense goodies directly to your door.
Photo credit: An Eye Full Studio