Looking after our gut health. This has become a popular topic with many health enthusiasts and nutritionists recently, as there has been a greater understanding of the link between our gut microbiome, our brains and our health. So in comes sauerkraut, a great choice of fermented food, full off nutrients and it's delicious to have with any meal of the day!
As I prefer to have a wide range of veggie options taking up most of my plate, I have always enjoyed sauerkraut being one of these options, but I have always bought it from a store, as this was all I knew…..until an amazing Russian woman, with a head full of health related knowledge taught me how to make it from scratch at home. This homemade sauerkraut is delicious! A much-preferred option over the shop bought varieties, it’s fresh, crunchy and deliciously sour. I try to make this every few weeks, but remembering the whole process takes up to 4 days before you can eat it. So, I have decided to share this really simple process - how to make your own super healthy homemade sauerkraut!
What you will need:
A white cabbage, lots of natural rock salt, 2 carrots, one grater, an egg, warm water, a large bowl, a large chopping board, strong sturdy knife, a large glass jar and a sieve.
1. First check that the bowl you have chosen is big enough so that the sieve can fit inside it once filled with water and can be slightly submerged (the cabbage will be dipped in water).
2. Using your strong knife, cut the cabbage in half, then cut into very, very thin strips, this can take quite a while, but the thinner the better, and that’s why the bigger and stronger the knife the easier this will be and wont put too much pressure on your hands and fingers as a thin wobbly knife would, and keep your fingers out o the way (a quicker choice is using a chopping machine which could finely shred the cabbage quicker). After you have cut the cabbage (I leave out the large chunk in the middle as you cant really cut that into small pieces for this recipe) remove the ends of the carrots and grate them into a sperate small bowl.
3. Next, fill the bowl with warm water and add lots of salt! About 1 cup and more, stirring as you add the salt to help it dissolve well, and then we use the egg, the trick with the egg is to make sure you have enough salt in water for the sauerkraut to taste great and ferment well, when you have added enough salt to the water and the egg is placed in the middle, it will float just enough so the top pops out of the water in size of a 1 penny coin.
4. Once you have reached that stage you can then add a little of the chopped cabbage and the carrot to the sieve, not too much, because you then dip the sieve in the water to allow the vegetables to be fully submerged in the water. Raise the sieve and shake off any excess water from the vegetables.
5. Next step after dunking the cabbage and carrot is to add it to the large jar (make sure you can fit your hand through the mouth of this jar!) add the vegetables in the bottom of the jar, pushing down on them on all sides so that they compact well. Repeat these steps with the rest of the cabbage and carrots, in the water and then into the jar, and every time you add more the jar, make sure you are really firmly compacting the mixture well, so it all sits tightly together.
6. Once you have squeezed as much as you can into the jar, find a good corner o your kitchen to leave it in, away from direct sunlight, place the lid on top to stop dirt getting in, but don’t screw the lid on, it must be left slightly open to allow the CO2 gas which will be produced from the fermenting natural sugars to escape (1). If this gas is not allowed to escape it will not taste good, as the cabbage releases its own liquid which allows it to slowly ferment.
7. Leave it to stand 3-4 days in total, but every morning and every you will need to release the gas produced, I use any sharp utensil, that can reach right to the bottom of the jar, like a long thin knife, sliding it down along the sides of the jar, you will notice lots of bubbles rising from the mixture. Do this all the way around the jar and a couple of times in the middle. Make sure to push down on the cabbage with your ands to ensure it is not floating up above any liquid. Then set to the side again.
8. By day 4 you can taste some of it, usually this is how long I like to leave it, but it will vary on your global location and the temperature of the air there, if the air is hotter, you might need to leave it to ferment for less time. The longer you leave it, the quicker the taste changes and gets stronger, but just test it and when you are happy with the taste, you can put the lid on and keep in the fridge. It should usually last up to about 6 months, although mine normally lasts only a week, because I eat it all to fast!
Note: It might smell a bit strong (because obviously its fermenting cabbage) but it tastes amazing mixed in with salads and seeds or eaten plain on its own on toasted rye bread. (Sauerkraut can be high in sodium, so keep this in mind if you're watching your salt intake).
During fermentation, good live bacteria are produced (probiotics) which makes sauerkraut much better for you than simple raw cabbage,
By ingesting probiotics, you increase your gut's ability to absorb the vitamins and minerals, and improve digestion,
It also improves the bacterial balance in your gut, which has a strong influence on a healthy immune system. Many people are also starting to understand that it’s not only good for the health of your body, but also your mind too,
Contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
Helps to reduce chances of cancer (backed my many research studies - experiments found that high levels of glucosinolates, ascorbigen, and ascorbic acid decrease DNA damage and cell mutation rate in cancer patients, and sauerkraut is known to have a high content of these compounds).
Thanks for cover photo from Mockup Graphics