According to Nourishing Traditions, “among all of the vegetables that can conserve through lacto-fermentation (what are fermented foods?), cabbage has been man’s preferred choice. In China, they fermented cabbage 6000 years ago. In ancient Rome, sauerkraut had a reputation as a food that was easy to digest. Tiberius always carried a barrel of sauerkraut with him during his long voyages to the Middle East because the Romans knew that the lactic acid it contained protected them from intestinal infections.”
Sauerkraut also owes its reputation to famous navigators of past centuries. It was taken on long voyages and prevented scurvy in the crew because it preserved sufficient quantities of vitamin C!
Sauerkraut is inexpensive and very easy to make. All you need is salt, some cabbage and some time (about a month), and this lowly cabbage will be transformed into a beautiful fermented condiment.
What You’ll Need
I would highly recommend investing in four items prior to making your first batch of sauerkraut. I didn’t have these when I started and while most batches turned out just fine, I have found that I have much better results now that I have them:
1. A wooden pounder will ensure you get your kraut tightly packed into your jars and safely under your brine
2. A kitchen scale will allow you to weigh your vegetables and your salt easily making this recipe foolproof no matter which vegetables you choose to throw in.
3. My favorite fermentation jars.
4. A wide mouth funnel. I thought this would be a waste of money…boy was I wrong! I use this all the time.
Simple Purple Sauerkraut
Here is my take on a basic sauerkraut with purple cabbage but you can use any veggies you want. I ferment based on weight and you should too because the size of a cabbage head varies so much that you may not get the amount of salt right. This recipe makes about 2 quarts depending on cabbage size.
- 2 heads cabbage – purple, chopped
- 3 carrots, cut into strips
- 2 kohlrabi, cut into thin slices
- 10g salt (where to buy) per 450g of veggies
Sprinkle the cabbage and other vegetables with salt in a large bowl.
Pound the cabbage with a wooden pounder for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage releases its juices.
Pack mixture into a fermentation jar until the veggies start to submerge in their own juices (they won’t be totally submerged but you will notice the air gets squeezed out quite a bit).
Store in your pantry for one month – tasting every few days to ensure the vegetables aren’t turning brown and are souring nicely.
TIP: If the top starts to brown, just stir up the kraut and pack down the veggies again below the juices.
It is interesting to taste the kraut throughout the fermentation process to see how the flavor develops over time.
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