Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut

Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut

Purple cabbage and orange sauerkraut is a wonderful fermented food to add in your diet on a regular basis. I enjoy eating healing fermented foods every day and it has really made a big difference in my health.


70 to 80% of our immune cells resides in our gut, so it is imperative that you do whatever you can to keep your digestive system healthy so your immune system stays strong. Fermented foods help you accomplish this goal and their fantastic flavors are an added bonus!


I’ve been experimenting with different types of cabbage, herbs, and vegetables to add variety to my sauerkraut ferments. Purple cabbage creates a crunchy sauerkraut that has a beautiful deep pink color and tangy flavor that is so delicious!


Today’s recipe is the first time I tried adding citrus fruit to my sauerkraut ferment and the combination is truly a revelation! Adding an orange to the recipe brightens the earthiness of the cabbage and uplifts its flavor with fresh bursts of citrus flavor that is so refreshing.


When I make sauerkraut I also like making different brines to change the flavor of the ferment. The brine I used in this recipe is an appealing blend of whey, orange, celery, garlic, and Himalayan sea salt. If you like it hot and want a kick of spice you could also add a hot pepper to this ferment like a Serrano or jalapeño pepper.


If you’ve never made fermented foods, you are going to be fascinated seeing what happens when beneficial bacteria, sea salt, cabbage and time work together to create a living food.


I get so excited when I see my ferments being transformed by the lactobacilli bacteria. Fermentation is truly an amazing process to see in action. The Greeks explained the transformation of food that occurs with fermentation as “alchemy.”


Beneficial lactobacilli bacteria, sea salt, or probiotic cultured vegetable starter transforms cabbage and other vegetables or fruits into a nutrient-dense living food teaming with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics that helps strengthen and heal your digestive system.


Lactobacilli are naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria that are present on vegetables and fruits and in the air. This good bacteria is high in natural enzymes and are responsible for turning the starches and sugars in foods into lactic acid that preserves food and enhances its nutrients. This lactic acid bacteria also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in our intestines.


The key to a successful fermentation is keeping your vegetables or fruits submerged completely under the brine so bad bacteria won’t grow in your ferment. Fermentation is an anaerobic process so doing this is an absolute necessity. Two of the best ways to do this is to use either a  Pickl-It Jar or a Harsch crock. Both of these vessels are more expensive than glass mason canning jars so if you are just starting out you may want to try making your ferments with the mason jars and see how you like doing it before you invest in the more expensive options.


I personally have been making ferments in glass mason jars for 4 years now and have not had any issues with bad batches. If you want to learn how to convert a inexpensive mason jar to an airtight container you can see how from Northwest Edible Life  in this post.


I wish you much success in your fermentation adventures!


If you want more information on the health benefits of eating fermented foods check out my post and recipes.


If you enjoyed my recipe, check out my new cookbook that’s packed with 154 tasty healing foods recipes! Deliciously Holistic is for sale on Amazon right now!


Have you tried fermented foods yet? Please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.


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Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut

Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free,

Makes 2-3 quarts

1 medium head organic purple cabbage

2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt

1 large peeled orange-white pith removed

2 organic celery stalks-cut into pieces

1 peeled small garlic clove

1 cup purified water

⅓ cup organic whey (you can also use a vegetable culture starter)

1 probiotic capsule-optional*

2 or 3 clean 1-quart glass canning jars with lids


1. Remove 4 outer leaves from cabbage, rinse, pat dry and set aside. Remove core of cabbage and cut remaining cabbage into thin slices or shred with a food processor. Place cabbage into a strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. Drain and pat dry.

2. Place clean sliced cabbage into a large bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and massage with your clean hands until cabbage starts to wilt and release its liquid. Set aside while you make the orange brine.

3. Place peeled orange, celery, garlic clove, water and whey into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the brine over the sliced cabbage and add contents from probiotic capsule if using, mixing well with your hands until all the cabbage is covered with brine. If you want a dairy-free paleo or vegan version use vegetable culture starter and leave out the whey and the probiotic capsule. Mix vegetable culture starter into brine and let sit for 10 minutes before adding to the cabbage.

4. Place cabbage into the clean glass jars and pack down tightly with your hands until brine goes over the vegetables. Be sure to leave at least 2-inches of space at the top of each jar to allow the cabbage to expand.

5. Fold cabbage leaves and place on top of the sauerkraut in the jar pushing down on leaves to cover with brine. Repeat this for second and third jar. Doing this step will help keep your sauerkraut under the brine. You can also add a small clean glass that fits inside of the mason jar on top of cabbage to weigh it down. Make sure you have at least 1 or 2-inches of brine over the top of the sauerkraut and folded cabbage leaves.

6. Place jars of sauerkraut inside a cardboard box or ice chest to protect from light. Let sauerkraut ferment at room temperature for 7-14 days. Taste after 7 days and see if you like the flavor. If you do like the taste, remove the top cabbage leaves and place sauerkraut in the refrigerator. The longer you ferment the sauerkraut the more tangy and sour it gets. Once done fermenting place sauerkraut in the refrigerator for up to 6-8 months.

7. Each time you remove sauerkraut to eat make sure you push the remaining sauerkraut under the brine to protect it.


*I added a probiotic capsule to my ferment this time to add additional strains of good bacteria to the sauerkraut. You can leave it out and just use pink salt and whey or a vegetable culture starter



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  1. I love the addition of orange here. Sounds even festive!
    France recently posted..Keep It Real Thursday – Last Minute Holiday Recipe IdeasMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Thanks France! The orange is so good in this sauerkraut. This recipe is my new favorite blend. I hope you make some soon!

  2. A perfect combination of some of my favorite foods. And the best part is that none of my family likes to eat this stuff. So more for me!!! Thank you for another great recipe.
    Clint Butler recently posted..Big List Of Niche KeywordsMy Profile

  3. This one looks very delicious!
    I wish i can prepare my own delicious food, am just too stuck in time to cook
    farouk recently posted..why do people believe in fortune tellingMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Thanks Farouk! I understand about time but I hope you try to take a little time to make some healing foods that will really help you feel great. If you just try to make one thing every week that is easy to do like a green smoothie everyday which takes about 5 minutes to put together you will see a big difference in your health.

  4. I never knew you could flavour sauerkraut 🙂 and it’s gluten free – it looks very healthy, thanks for sharing this.

    PS I agree with France, it sounds very festive.
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..Balancing work and life better in 2013My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Sarah, When you make fermented sauerkraut you can add whatever flavors you like and it tastes good and is so good for you! Some of my favorite additions are dill, carrots, ginger, basil, dulse seaweed, kale, and hot peppers to mix it up. I also like putting sauerkraut inside a avocado half for a really filling tasty snack.

  5. Hi Shelley,
    thank you so much for sharing this interesting knowledge and recipe.

    Wow, 70 – 80% of our immune cells reside in our intestinal tract. Does that mean that people with a lot of wind (putrefactive bacteria) would be having less immunity?

    My mother used to make the ‘normal’ sauerkraut in an earthen pot with a saucer on top and a rock to way it down.

    Can you make it without the whey?

    Thanks again for this informative post.

    To health!
    Yorinda recently posted..Visual Editor and WordPress 3.5 UpdateMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Yorinda, If someone has alot of wind that’s a sign that their digestive system is out of balance which will effect their immunity. You can make this sauerkraut without the whey and just use sea salt only and ferment it for around 3 weeks. You can also use Body Ecology’s cultured vegetable starter and your sauerkraut can be made with no or a small amount of sea salt and it will ferment within 5-7 days. To health!

  6. Hey Shelley,

    This looks like a great recipe. I had no idea that you could use Fermentation for food I thought it was just for beer…lol. However, I have a question for you what is 1 probiotic capsule and where do you get it. Sorry never head of it before. This looks like a cool little recipe I would like to try. I always like finding new recipes and trying them out. Doesn’t look like this one is all that hard. Kind of excited to see it…lol.

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Garen, Probiotic capsules are simply pills that are filled with probiotics that you can buy and take by mouth. I take Primal Defense Ultra Ultimate Probiotic Formula by Garden of Life and I opened one of the capsules and added it to my fermented cabbage. You can buy probiotic capsules in stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, in health food stores, or online. I hope you try to make the recipe it is so good and really healing to your body.

  7. Shelley,
    Now this is something I have never tried to do. Hmmm Fermentation food! Maybe I’ll give it a shot. It looks so good.

    The best thing I love about reading your recipes is that you explain all the great stuff it does for your body. I eat for energy! I am so mindful of what foods do what to your body. Thanks so much for sharing not only your recipe, but also the benefits!
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Inspirational QuotesMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Thanks so much Donna! I’m so happy that you appreciate me sharing the health benefits of the foods I make for my blog. It’s really important to me to share this information so that I can help anyone who visits my blog learn how to eat nutrient-dense food for healing and energy. I like knowing that you eat for energy too and it really makes a big difference in how you feel on a daily basis.

  8. Shelley,

    I have never made a fermented food before but I started eating sauerkraut when I was on the Ideal Protein Diet. It is filling and satisfying as one of the vegetables in a simple diet.

    Not sure what a Mason jar is so I will have to check out your link.


    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted..Melatonin and your Health: 11 Factors You Ought to Know. Guest Post by Clare KelwayMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Dr. Erica, The mason jar is simply a glass canning jar that you can pick up at the hardware store or any place that sells canning supplies. I also enjoy eating sauerkraut and I even used to eat the kind made with vinegar and pasteurized before I learned the art of fermentation. I hope you make some soon and see how great it makes you feel.

  9. Shelley,
    there is so much to learn from you.. love to come to your blog and enjoy the feeling, the healthy feeling.. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom to keep us healthy.

    This recipe is truly amazing… I had no idea I can have such a great fermented cabbage sauerkraut.. nice to learn new ways to keep our God given Body healthy and vibrant.
    Happy and Healthy 2013
    nick catricala recently posted..Trip to the Big City… the Experience!My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Nick, Your comments really touched my heart! It’s so nice to know that the love I have for healthy delicious foods can inspire you and others to try new recipes and enjoy the benefits that healing foods offer. Here’s to your vibrant health and happiness in 2013 and beyond!

  10. Hi Shelley,

    This is definitely a new approach to cooking for me.I’ve never eaten holistically healthy foods but I definitely like the idea of trying new things and eating healthy.I love Sauerkraut and cabbage and vegetables period.I am definitely going to try your recipe and look at some of your others as well.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Jamie Bishop recently posted..“LOVE THY NEIGHBOR”My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Jamie, welcome to my blog and I’m so glad that you’re going to try my recipe. I enjoy eating healthy foods that taste delicious and make me feel wonderful at the same time. If the foods aren’t vibrant and tasty I won’t eat healthy no matter how good it is for me and that is why I try to create recipes that are good to eat and good for you.

  11. Okay, I guess it sounds good. Certainly looks good. Maybe I’ll try it…

    Does kombucha tea count as a fermented food? It is something I’ve started making in the past few months.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..December ReflectionsMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Willena, I hope you do try it, your body will thank you! Kombucha tea is a fermented drink. I’m glad your making it.

  12. I have indeed had this. My paternal grandmother has made something very similar. I actually liked it, but remember, my sisters were not so fond of it. I tend to have some weird tastes…lol

    I tried to get my grandmother to share her recipe before, but her eyesight has deteriorated pretty bad that she cannot email, read, or write. Thanks!!!
    Nile recently posted..Graphic: Inspiration Is All Around YouMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Nile, Your tastes aren’t weird, you just appreciate trying a variety of different foods. I think that means you’re adventurous.

  13. I love fermented foods and I eat them all the time (when I can get my hands on them). I want to get more practice making my own so I can always have a good supply of them, and this looks like a great recipe to try. I’ve made kombucha, but I think it was upsetting my stomach (histamines…? autoimmune issue? not sure…). I take probiotic supplements or digestive health but it makes so much sense to me to get these probiotics in food form.

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Sara, I’m so glad you love and eat fermented foods all the time. Making your own will save you lots of money and you can create the recipes that really appeal to your tastebuds. I hope that my recipe becomes one of your favorites. I will be doing more fermented recipes in 2013 so stop back by.

  14. Althea Young says:

    That looks awesome and delicious indeed! I love the way you explain everything when you are going to share the recipes and I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    Althea Young recently posted..Tips for Getting Quotes for Timber Joinery ProductsMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Thanks Althea! I hope you make the recipe because it’s so good for your digestive health plus it tastes yummy. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  15. Can this be canned? I garden and can extensively and want to grow red cabbage this year. Am looking for a way of preserving it. Thanks, Rachelle

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Rachelle, If you ferment the cabbage it will preserve it so that you don’t need to can it. Fermented cabbage will stay fresh in the refrigerator for many months and is filled with living beneficial bacteria to heal your digestive system. If you can the cabbage using heat to preserve it you will destroy the enzymes and beneficial bacteria that promote vibrant health.

  16. What a great idea! Thank you for your inspiration!

  17. Thanks Katrin! The orange adds such lovely flavor to the sauerkraut.
    Shelley Alexander recently posted..Asparagus, Avocado, and Caramelized Onion QuinoaMy Profile

  18. Hi Kinzie, Whey is the liquid that you see sitting on top of yogurt when you open a container. You can buy a container of organic yogurt and pour it into a strainer lined with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and place inside a bigger bowl. Cover the top of the strainer and place in the refrigerator overnight. The liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl is liquid whey which can be used to ferment vegetables with beneficial bacteria. Let me know how your recipe turns out.
    Shelley Alexander recently posted..6 Natural and Eco-Friendly Tips to Protect Your Garden from PestsMy Profile

  19. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Thank you
    Collin recently posted..Binäre Optionen brokerMy Profile

  20. The best way to let the ferment burp off and yet keep the air out is first to keep the cabbage submerged, this can be done by cutting out a circle the size of the jar from a food safe kind of plastic screen like a food dehydrator screen or salad spinner screen.
    Place it on top of the cabbage and press down.
    Place a river rock (that has been boiled for 20 minutes) on top of the screen to keep it from floating up.
    Then pour 1/2 inch of olive oil on top of the liquid. Voila, a perfect seal.
    Apparently the olive oil trick is an old French way of doing it. The CO2 can burp out but no air can get it. Later when you want to use the cabbage, suck the oil off using a turkey baster.

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