Well, it's officially summer. So to celebrate, we had our first cook out of the year. It was so much fun to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen a while.
One of the many reasons I love summer is because it is the perfect time to deftly lead newbies into the magical and addictive world of fermented foods, salsas, sodas, margaritas and krauts of all kinds.
We served up a slew of grass-fed beef and liver burgers dressed in a beautiful color pop of purple garlic sauerkraut.
This is my favorite kraut to pair with beef or lamb. It is so delicious! Plus, you make any plate an attention grabber with the addition of its vibrant color. Successfully introducing people to fermented foods is a bit like asking a stranger to dance. A little ‘pretty' can go a long way toward getting your way.
Fermented food is good for your immune system
Do you want to bolster your immune system? No, I am not a doctor. But I have made hundreds of gallons of fermented food and have not had even the whisper of a cold in years.
I used to get a cold seasonally or when I was working super long hours. But, not since my kitchen table has evolved to be a place where well raised nutrient dense and fermented food is served. And I still burn the candle at both ends. Tough habit to break!
Maybe it's magic or coincidence but, I think it's the food.
Sauerkraut aids in digestion
Do you think that a big juicy burger or steak yields a sleepy unproductive afternoon? I used to think so too. But, no more!
At our cook out, I ate my enormous hamburger and then spearheaded a cartwheel contest, and no one looked at me with “you're crazy” eyes. This purple garlic sauerkraut is a delicious crisp addition to any meal that will aid you in easy, energy efficient digestion and imbue your body with greater immunity through more diverse gut ecology.
Purple garlic sauerkraut ingredients
- 1 head red cabbage, preferably organic
- 1 T unrefined sea salt
- 1 T minced or grated garlic
Purple garlic sauerkraut method
- Remove core from head of cabbage.
- Shred cabbage into thin ribbons with a knife or food processor.*
- Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic over the cabbage.
- Knead/squeeze the shredded cabbage. Get into it! You are breaking the cabbage down and helping it to release its juices.
- Add this soupy cabbage mixture to your fermentation vessel and press the cabbage down firmly. Really pack it in there. The mixture should be 1 inch from the lid of your jar and should be covered at the top with the beautiful brine you have made. Remember my Fermented Veggie Mantra: “Below the Brine is Fine.” **
- 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 or until the kraut tastes tart but remains crisp. When it's finished fermenting, wipe off 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. If you used a large head of cabbage, you may be able to fill an additional small jar as well.
*Can you add water? If you have an older head of cabbage, it may contain less juice and you may need to add up to 1/8 cup water. Not on top of the cabbage once it is pack in the jar but into the mixture you are squeezing and kneading in the bowl. However, the best tasting, most concentrated with beneficial bacteria and most effective brine at keeping your veggies fresh is made from the juice of the cabbage.
Want to see me ridiculously excited about fermenting and demonstrate how to process purple garlic sauerkraut?
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: Real Food Devotee
Jennifer McGruther via Facebook says
Oh my it totally is! And her yogurt is awesome too.
Easy Natural Remedies via Facebook says
monica ford says
Thank you, Jenny!!! Love you! xo
July Dashal Vedders via Facebook says
It’s SOO good!!
How large a jar do you need for a large head of cabbage?
Monica Ford says
@Lois you need a quart size jar and may need an additional half pint or pint size jar ta’boot:)
I’m going to make this one soon! I’ve been grating cabbage etc in my food processor and going with that, but I do like finely shredded cabbage as well. Maybe I’ll try half-and-half next. I haven’t really mastered the art of shredding with my machine yet.
Monica Ford says
When my sweetheart first gifted me a food processor years ago, I let it languish in my cupboard for months before trying it out but once I finally gave it a test drive and got used to it, I never looked back. What a fun time saver! Let us know how it turns out!
Great recipe — curious this though: I’ve read that you shouldn’t use a lid on your fermentation. I always cover mine with a towel or coffee filter and rubberband. What do you think? Curious your take. 🙂
Here’s a silly question. How do you get the cabbage to stay under the brine? Mine keeps floating up! So frustrating!
I have been very curious to make something fermented and this recipe seems like a great way to start but it says to store in 70-85 degrees so is this something that needs to wait until summer or will it still ferment in 60-70 degrees ? Also, does the brine come naturally from kneading the cabbage with the salt or is there a separate brine recipe to be poured into the cabbage? Thanks!
monica ford says
Hi @Ally You can ferment with a lid or with a cloth. However, a lid is more likely to give you a more consistent kraut every time. Using a cloth opens your your sauerkraut up to oxygen and wild yeasts particularly on the top layer (lactic acid fermentation does not require oxygen). Though this can turn out fine, it can also many times result in an off tasting, discolored or moldy top layer of kraut. That can be discouraging especially to new fermenters. I want to enjoy eating all of my kraut and I want you to as well. Even the top layer:)
monica ford says
@Aural If you like you can place a large cabbage leaf on top of your kraut. Press it under the brine so that the brine rises up above the leaf to weigh it and your kraut down.
However, I have fermented hundreds of gallons of sauerkraut (no exaggeration:) and I never take this additional step. I do make certain to make enough bring to cover my sauerkraut in the jar and do not worry about any bits that are pushed up:) You’re sauerkraut will be fine. Happy Fermenting!
monica ford says
You can still ferment successfully in 60-70F degrees. It will take a little longer. 1-2 weeks longer. If you feel your home is often around 60F, you might consider setting your jar of ferment on top of your refrigerator which is a little warm or you might get a seeding mat (link below). The very happy range for ferments is 70-85F degrees.
Hi Monica, thanks for the inspiration – I just made my first ever sauerkraut and I’m keen to try other kinds soon. I misjudged the size jar I needed though, and there’s a few inches space at the top. Will that additional air in the jar have an adverse effect? Should I add another head of cabbage tomorrow?
Monica Ford says
Congrats on your fermentation @Sophie
As long as the cabbage on top is wet with brine, your sauerkraut should be fine. I dont thimk you should open the Jar to add more. Let is know how it turns out.
Laura Stone says
I have not yet fermented anything. Ever. I really want to start this healthy food prep (with other foods as well) but am confused by the directions. How does the cabbage ferment in brine or are you adding something else to this mixture? I did not see anything else in the recipe or directions to tell me. Thanks so much!
Monica ford says
Welcome to the fun filled land of fermentation! You will creat a juicy brine by Knead/squeezing the shredded cabbage. Get into it! You are breaking the cabbage down and helping it to release its juices.