Sauerkraut, sour cabbage, is a german lacto fermented cabbage dish. In the 18th Century Captain James Cook used sauerkraut to prevent the death of his sailors from scurvy but Germany’s sauerkraut is actually a version of chinese kraut, brought to Europe by the hoards of Gengis Khan.
Raw cabbage is implicated in depressed thyroid functioning, while fermented cabbage and other vegetables provide many health benefits and should not be under estimated for their healing powers. Sally Fallon in her book, Nourishing Traditions provides some excellent instructions on the fermentation of vegetables and fruits, in addition to grains, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.
Basic Recipe for Sauerkraut
- 1 litre glass jar with plastic lid or spring lid
- 1 Cabbage Medium sized (1kg)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons of Kefir whey (you may use already fermented sauerkraut for an innoculant or simply add another tablespoon of salt.)
- 1 tablespoon of carraway seeds or fresh chopped dill.
Germans have always sliced the cabbage with a specially made machine and pounded them with a wooden mortar in a large crock to bruise the cell walls.
Grate cabbage with a hand grater or process in a food processor, then mix in a large food grade plastic bucket (get them at a hardware store) with the salt and Kefir whey. Pound with a meat mallot or wooden pounder of some kind. I’ve been known to use a pick handle, a clean one of course. Pound until the juices cause suction when you pull the pounder out of the mix.
Press the mixture into a clean glass jar using a wooden spoon. Press firmly until the juice rises to the top and covers the mixture, which it will do when it is pounded enough. Leave at least one inch or more of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.
Cover the kraut and store the jar in a cupboard for 3-5 days (depending on the ambient temperature) before transferring to the refrigerator. The sauerkraut may be consumed after a couple of weeks, though if you allow the fermentation process to continue for a month or so in the refrigerator you will be well rewarded with a most delicious flavour. I love sauerkraut at 4 months old.
As with all fermenting, follow your nose. If it smells putrid or you have any doubts about the quality, then discard the sauerkraut and start again.
To explore this topic further we recommend…
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
Kefir Rediscovered!: The Nutritional Benefits of an Ancient Healing Food (Kaufmann Food Series)
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
About the Author...
Joanne Hay, Editor of Nourished Magazine, Chief Nourisher and Mother of three is very grateful to live in Byron Bay and be able to share all she has learned about Nourishment. She has trained as an Acupuncturist (unfinished), Kinesiologist (finished) and parent (never finished). She serves the Weston A Price Foundation as a chapter leader. She loves sauerkraut, kangaroo tail stew, home made ice cream, her husband Wes and her kids Isaiah, Brynn and Ronin (in no particular orderâ€¦well maybe ice cream first).