Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage has remarkable health benefits and it is so quick and easy to make yourself. This article will explain how you can make this delicious superfood at home, and start enjoying its fantastic health benefits yourself.
When foods such as cabbage are fermented, their digestibility and vitamin levels are enhanced. Sauerkraut is not only high in fiber and vitamin C, it is also low in calories.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut produce lactic acid, which not only preserves the fruits and vegetables, but also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. They also produce useful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.
Raw cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, a class of cancer-fighting compounds. However, these foods also contain chemicals that block the production of the thyroid hormone. Cooking these foods or fermenting them destroys these harmful substances and also increases their levels of beneficial substances.
Fermented foods are beneficial for the digestive system because they increase the healthy flora in the intestinal tract, and help it to flourish. This beneficial bacteria improves digestion, keep pathogens at bay, guards against infectious illnesses and protects against many diseases of the digestive tract.
How to Make sauerkraut
You can turn practically any vegetable into this superfood, but cabbage should make up at least 80 percent of your vegetable blend when making sauerkraut.
Use red or green cabbage, but make sure they’re hard and heavy, with densely packed leaves. The lighter, leafier varieties will tend to turn into mush that doesn’t ferment well.
Add in other vegetables to suit your taste, such as: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, bell peppers, butternut squash. You can also add onions, garlic, ginger, dill etc to flavor the mix. But beware: use bell peppers, onions, garlic etc sparingly as they have a very strong presence and can overpower your sauerkraut!
Herbs can also be added to the sauerkraut depending on your tastes, but remember to use them sparingly because the fermentation process enhances flavors.
- Prepare the vegetables, by peeling them, removing the core (of the cabbages), washing them.
- Next, shred them, including the ginger and garlic. A quick way to do this is to use a food processor with the ‘slice attachment’.
- Put the shredded vegetables into bowls.
- Add 1 tsp of salt per head of cabbage.Thoroughly mix the vegetables so that the salt is evenly dispersed. Use your hands and press the cabbage- you can also pound it with a wooden spoon or similar, to release the juices.
- Leave the vegetables to stand for around 30 minutes.
- Finally, place the cabbage and other vegetables in tightly-sealing glass jars, such as Mason jars, packing them in and pressing it down firmly until the juices come to the top of the mix. Leave at least 1-2” space at the top of the jar, giving space for fermentation to take place.
- Leaving this space at the top of the jar is essential if you don’t want the juices all over your kitchen drawer when the fermentation process starts to take place and bubble up (I’ve learnt this from experience!)
- Close the jars and keep them at room temperature for 2-4 days and then move them to a cool, dark place where you can leave them for a couple of weeks. You can then store them in the fridge, or even leave them in a cold cupboard.
The sauerkraut is usually ready in a few weeks time. It can be eaten immediately, but it improves with age- usually 1 month is long enough to allow the fermentation process to happen.