Have you ever made fermented sauerkraut? If you haven’t tried it before, it is pretty simple and quite a fun project to do, especially with kids.
Sauerkraut directly translates to “sour cabbage”. It is made by finely shredding cabbage, adding some salt and then allowing it to ferment via the process of lacto-fermentation. The various lactic acid bacteria that perform the fermentation are naturally present on the cabbage so there is no need to add any bacteria or “starter” to the cabbage. It will simply “do its thing” naturally, given the right conditions.
Sauerkraut has a very distinctive taste that is a combination of sour/salty/tangy which I find to be delicious and energizing. It is also very good for you! The lactic acid bacteria that preserve the sauerkraut are very beneficial to our digestive systems, and help to build and maintain a healthy gut flora.
A while back I made my Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut which was so delicious, that I was inspired to continue experimenting with different combinations. I love adding different vegetables and seasonings to my ferments for flavor variety and added nutrition. This time, I decided to make a Fermented Savoy Cabbage, Carrot and Ginger Sauerkraut!
Shelley’s Note: If you do want to use cultured vegetable starter bacteria you can make a low salt version of this recipe. Check out these sources for good cultured vegetable starter.
Savoy Cabbage, Carrot and Ginger Sauerkraut
Raw Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut Free
1 Savoy cabbage (2-3lb), finely shredded*
3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger**
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 teaspoons fine-ground sea salt
Caraway seeds (optional)
1 cup brine (1 teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of filtered water)
1. Finely chop up the cabbage. As your chopping board fills up with cabbage, toss it into a large bowl (or pot). Add the grated carrots and ginger. Sprinkle over the salt, garlic and optional caraway seeds.
2. Wash your hands, roll up your sleeves and start scrunching that cabbage with your hands! Alternatively you could pound the cabbage with a wooden utensil instead of your hands, but I prefer to use my hands. The purpose of this step is to release the juices and to make sure that the cabbage, salt, carrots and ginger are mixed together really well. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. If you tilt the bowl and move the cabbage out of the way, you should start to see juice collecting in the bottom of the bowl.
3. When everything has been mixed and scrunched really well, and you have juice collecting in the bottom of your bowl, you’re ready to transfer the contents to the jar that it will ferment in.
Note: It’s important to use a glass jar as opposed to a plastic or metallic container because the glass is non-reactive and won’t interfere with the fermentation process. Also, make sure you have a way of weighing down the contents while they’re fermenting. I like to use a drinking glass that fits snugly into the mouth of my fermenting jar (scroll down for image).
4. Pack the vegetables into the jar tightly to remove as many air pockets as possible. It is important that the vegetables are covered in a good inch of brine so that they are not exposed to the air. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process, which means it won’t work in the presence of oxygen. If, after packing the vegetables down in the jar, the brine is not completely covering the vegetables by a good inch, then make up some additional brine by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 1 cup of filtered water and gently pouring it into the fermenting jar.
5. Place a weight on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged (I use a drinking glass or you could use a glass jar). I always get a few bits of vegetables floating to the surface but that has never caused me any problems.
6. Cover the fermenting jar with a light tea towel and place it on a spare dinner plate or similar because sometimes during the fermentation process the level of brine continues to rise, and may spill out of the fermenting jar. Leave it at room temperature for a week. My favorite fermenting spot is in our coat cupboard because it is cool and has an even temperature! My kitchen frequently gets too hot (above 75F).
7. After a week I removed my jar of sauerkraut from the cupboard. I could tell it was good because it had a nice crisp, tangy smell to it and no signs of mold or discoloration.
*It is not necessary to use a Savoy cabbage; an ordinary green cabbage will do just fine. But I had a Savoy cabbage on hand that needed to be used.
**I used 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and it gave the sauerkraut a lovely ginger flavor without being overpowering. If you really like ginger, add more. If you don’t like the ginger taste but still want the benefits of ginger (helps with digestion) then use less.
Here the before and after photos:
I tasted some and it tasted crisp, fresh, salty and a little tangy. It tastes so fresh and alive and the ginger really shines through. Perfect! I closed the lid on the jar and transferred it to the fridge for storage. It will continue to develop in the fridge, but at a much slower rate. The flavor will mature and become more complex and well-developed with time.
If you’re interested in making this but still feel a little uncertain about some of the steps in the process, I recommend reading my step by step guide to making sauerkraut.
Lacto-fermented vegetables are a great probiotic food, are so good for you, and really tasty too! Go ahead and try it!
This guest post is by Debbie Plaistowe. Debbie Plaistowe is a work-at-home wife and mom, and a big believer in the healing power of traditional foods. Debbie created Easy Natural Food to share her vast collection of recipes that she has been amassing ever since she began her real food journey. Not one for wanting to fuss around unnecessarily in the kitchen, Debbie likes to create simple, practical, yet nutritious meals for her family. Check out her website for more fantastic recipes.
What are your favorite ferments? If you would like to contribute to the conversation, please take a moment to leave a comment.
For more information about the benefits of fermented foods for vibrant health check out my post.
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