Sauerkraut is a fermented food that is made through a process called Lacto-fermentation. As a probiotic, sauerkraut has been reported to have beneficial effects on the gut and digestive system, thanks to the presence of ‘good’ bacteria such as Lactobacillus.
Sauerkraut is seriously easy to make at home, and regardless of your experience with fermenting foods, it is very hard to go wrong.
To make sauerkraut, you will need three basic ingredients and a clean Kilner jar for storage.
Note: Ensure that anything that you use is properly cleaned, including your hands.
- 1 Whole white cabbage
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- Slice the cabbage into quarters and remove the thick core.
- Slice the cabbage into ribbons and place into a bowl.
- Sprinkle over the sea salt, mix together and leave for fifteen minutes.
- Return to the cabbage and massage it with your hands, or use the flat end of a rolling pin to knead the cabbage. It will take ten minutes of work, but you the cabbage will begin to produce a liquid.
- Add the juniper berries and caraway seeds.
- Remove the cabbage, berries and seeds and add to the Mason jar. Pour any of the liquid over the cabbage.
- The cabbage needs to be covered at all times, to ensure the fermentation process and to avoid mould – if there is not enough liquid to cover the cabbage you can top up with a little water. Ensure you use bottled mineral water, as opposed to water from the tap.
- Cover the jar with a cloth and secure with an elastic band, to ensure airflow to the sauerkraut but to keep anything unwanted out of the jar.
- Leave at room temperature for 7-10 days. Keep out of direct sunlight but store in a warm place if possible, to help the fermentation process.
- Sample the sauerkraut every day after the first 5 days. Place in the fridge with the lid sealed once you are happy with the taste.
- You can keep your sauerkraut in the fridge for up to 2 months, but use your common sense when it comes to determining whether your sauerkraut is good to eat after any period of time.
While fermenting foods might be new to you, it is important to remember than many cultures have been making fermented foods such as sauerkraut for hundreds of years. It is one of the easiest fermented foods to try making yourself.
The main thing to remember is that the cabbage must be covered by the brine, at all times, to prevent mould forming on the surface. In the unlikely event that you notice any mould, simply discard your batch and start from scratch. You can press down the cabbage every few days, if you are wary of the cabbage remaining submerged.
During the fermentation process, you may notice small bubbles forming around the cabbage which is simply a sign that your cabbage is in fact fermenting, as the bacteria feeds off the sugars in the cabbage and convert it into lactic acid.
Try sauerkraut in salads or sandwiches, or try our recipe for Steak, Eggs and Sauerkraut.
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