by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles @insideawareness.com
Growing up eating Sauerkraut makes it one of my favorite comfort foods which has the bonus of natural and organic probiotics (with no additives).
Probiotics are good bacteria which grow naturally in a healthy gut and when one has low levels it can lead to digestive issues. Eating foods with natural probiotics increases the guts level of good bacteria and fermented foods has the added benefit of natural B, D and K2 vitamins.
My first father-in-law was originally from Estonia who immigrated first to Sweden and then Canada. He loved traditional cooking and sauerkraut was a staple at any feast that included turkey. It made the holidays eating more digestible and tasty. Probiotics need food to survive in ones gut so it was a match made in heaven!
The first holiday I spent with his family was a surprise. It began with pickled herring followed by a course of turkey and sauerkraut with oven roasted potatoes. To my shock it was followed by another full course of ham with red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Of course there was rich desert to complete the meal. Future holidays for me meant smaller portions with the knowledge that there was more to come!
I loved learning how to make foods from scratch that included pickled herring and sauerkraut. A skill not used for many years with the convenience of buying pre-made products. Recently searching for sauerkraut at the grocer we came across a brand that was on the shelf located by the kombucha. There was a line of ‘krauts that had many interesting ingredients such as: kelp, ginger, turmeric, etc. We decided to try one and do a taste comparison to regular sauerkraut.
We picked out the one with kelp, shown in the bowl above. The colour did not have the nice deep yellow colour I am familiar with. The taste was underwhelming. It did not have the tang that is so much a part of the sauerkraut experience. I realized then that I could probably get back into fermenting some simple ‘krauts myself that would be more cost-effective for us. With the crock pot long gone, I explored on-line for ways to move forward with this idea that would be efficient for my lifestyle. I decided upon some lids that could be put onto wide mouth mason jars I already had. I have learned since then that some processes of using high heat and vinegar for making sauerkraut actually destroys the good bacteria in the fermentation.
Green Cabbage Fermenting in Mason Jar
Red Cabbage fermenting in Mason Jar
The first batch was started June 28th, ’18. It was quick and easy and I look forward to giving these a try in two or so weeks. I have never had red cabbage sauerkraut and am excited about trying it when it has fermented. Each of these jars hold one small cabbage! If all goes well I will be able to compare the two. Once I feel confident with this new system I will begin to create using ginger, turmeric and other favorite compatible living foods.
Added Aug 24th, ’18
Before sharing the recipe I wanted to wait to see how these ‘krauts tasted and if they met with expectations. They did! Both the green and red cabbage ‘krauts simply have a wonderful flavor and texture. If you like sauerkraut you will love home-made even more. Once I began making my own again I somehow became more open to hearing what some manufactures do in their recipes. I learned that some make theirs with vinegar. I simply used salt, cabbage and a process of pounding to create a natural brine. The difference is stunning!
- 1 medium cabbage (red or green)
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- potato masher
- mason jar or jars depending on size on hand
Shred cabbage and put into large bowl. Mix in sea salt and let cabbage sit for up to 20 minutes covered lightly. After the cabbage has been resting in salt for a time begin to pound it to bruise the leaves which lets the juices out. I use a potato masher. When there is enough brine to cover the cabbage push and pack cabbage into mason jar tightly until 3/4’s full and fill to the top with it. You may have to push cabbage down with a weight to ensure the bring completely covers the cabbage.
Sauerkraut is usually left to ferment for 15 to 30 days. However, I have only been able to wait 15 days and it’s perfect for my taste. I made a batch specifically for our August Farm Retreat and found I left it to long before making it so only let it ferment for 14 days. It was perfect.
Remember that when the fermenting stage is complete you can stop the fermenting process by putting the ‘kraut into the fridge.
A simple suggestion has been to find some smooth round rocks that fit into your mason jar. Wash and sterilize them first. As my intent is to integrate a full assortment of fermented foods I have elected to purchase glass weights. However this isn’t a necessary expense when starting out.
Utensil for pounding and pushing cabbage into jars
I simply used a potato masher and found a serving spoon with bowl at an angle versus straight up and down. These work well and saved the expense of buying any expensive utensil for this purpose.
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Here are the lids I purchased. It came with a pump to burp the jars that makes it easy and efficient.