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Sauerkraut Making at home

How to Make Sauerkraut

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How to make sauerkraut

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is so good for us- it is said that properly made sauerkraut has as many good bacteria as a capsule of good quality biotics. But in addition it comes with the minerals and enzymes that make it truly a superfood. Home made sauerkaut is best- because it is an art that keep families healthy. It is what people used to use before refrigeration to keep their vegetables through the off seasons. LIttle did they know that they were doing something that was profoundly good for them or at least they might not have known to the extent of why it was so good. Many cultures excuse the pun- use different types of fermented foods- fermented vegies - fermented milk to make yopghurt- fermented Kefir fermented coconut kefir.

If you dont want to make your own Sauerkraut- no problems- go an buy some- but it is truly best to at least know how to make it and also to have given it a whirl - because then when you do eat sauerkraut you know what it is.

In my locality good quality German type Sauerkraut can be purchased at places like the Gourmand Ingredients shop in Short st Port Macquarie. I am sure there are other places that have good quality sauerkraut but with Gourmand Ingredients I know they have the proper stuff.

So homemade sauerkraut, is full of not only all the nutrients and phytochemicals that make cabbage a superfood but it contains probiotics as well. It tastes great and it helps with digestion too, well that’s what I notice anyway. A lot of our digestion comes from the friendly bacteria in our guts. IN fact for every human cell we have - we actually are carrying around TEN bacterial cells. That's ten bacteria to one human cell. However because the bacteria are so small- it amounts to about two to three kilograms of bacteria we are carrying around in and on our body! Apparently if you were to count genetics - then we are carrying around 100 times more bacterial genes than we are human genes! So they have an important role to our digestion BUT also extremely important for our immunity.

 

The store-bought variety may in some cases taste good, but it’s not that healthy for you, and it’s expensive. It usually has way too much salt, not necessarily good salt at that. And in most cases it’s pasteurized, which means all the healthy probiotic bacteria that make sauerkraut so much more awesome and easily digestible than just plain cabbage have been KILLED OFF!!!. So whats the point in that I ask you? Along with most of the nutrients. Mind you, you could do far worse as far as food choices go. But why settle for mediocre? Why not choose awesome? You’re worth it.

When I make Sauerkraut it is best to chop all the cabbage by hand, so if you use a mandoline* or food processor it won’t take that long at all. But there is a risk of chopping the cabbage too fine.

The process is really easy, it’s just that it looks like a lot because I’ve tried to explain the process really thoroughly. If you have any questions just send em an email. There is also plenty on YouTube on making fermented vegies including Sauerkraut. I will eventually make my own video and put it on here to show you the steps.

Now some people like to have yoghurt as their bioitcs- however the problems is that the milk has to be pasteurised by law- that means it is heated to KILL all the bacteria- they do this in case any bad bacteria is living in the milk- but it also kills all the good bacteria- so then to make yoghurt they put back in some culture- but to me that is raising up a culture in a sterile environment where they nutrients have largely been killed and certainly the good bacteria. It is a shame we cannot get raw milk these days. It is actually illegal. The taste is much richer and the yoghurt is much healthier- so to make yoghurt on dead milk is just not the same. I understand of course that they need to make sure no nasty bacteria found their way into the system. The main problem is not the bad bacteria being introduced by an unhealthy cow- but more often it is because it is really hard to clean the milking tubes and equipment properly. That is where the bad bacteria start to grow. That is the source of those nasties. However if we could get hold of some raw milk from a health cow that is hand milked. Then that would be ideal. However even if you physically can- it is illegal- the only thing you can buy raw milk for is either bathing milk or raw milk for your pets. However some people say yes it is for my pet or for bathing but then they go and drink it themselves.

Anyway this is why Sauerkraut is a better sauce of biotics than yoghurt.

Ingredients:

8 cups finely chopped cabbage (red/purple or green)
1 tbsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt **

** I like to use coarse sea salt, during the process of massaging the cabbage the grains of salt will break down. I usually put on some good music, or listen to an audio book while I’m doing it and I know I don’t have to pay much attention until all the grains of salt have dissolved. It should work just as well with finely ground salt as well.

Here’s a tip if you’re using red/purple cabbage, as you’re massaging the cabbage your hands will get stained purple. An easy and effective way to get the stain off is to rub a cut lemon on your skin where it’s stained and then rinse your hands. So if you don’t want to have slightly purple hands, be sure to have a lemon on hand (no pun intended) if you’re using red/purple cabbage.

Special Equipment:

You’ll need a 1 litre (1 quart) glass jar with a tight fitting lid. I like the jars with a glass lid and rubber seal that clamp down. A canning jar with a tight fitting lid will work fine too.

Instructions:

Wash and drain the cabbage well. Cut off any outer leaves that don’t look so good. Cut off and save one of the nicer looking outer leaves and put it to one side. After you’ve made and packed all the sauerkraut in the jar, you’ll fold up this leaf and put it on top to help press down the cabbage to keep it under the brine.

Finely sliced red cabbage

Finely sliced red cabbage

Slice the cabbage as finely as you can. You can also use a mandoline*  or food processor to slice the cabbage as finely as you can. The reason you want to slice it so finely is to maximize the surface area. This will make it easier to massage and quicker to ferment.

Add the sliced cabbage to a large mixing bowl, along with the salt. Using your hands massage the salt into the cabbage by grabbing handfuls of the cabbage and squeezing it like you would squeeze out a large sponge then let go and drop the cabbage back into the bowl. Grab another handful and do the same. Repeat this until the cabbage starts to get soft.

As the cabbage softens you’ll notice more and more juice in the bottom of the bowl. The juice will dissolve the salt, which will in turn draw more juice out of the cabbage. That’s exactly what we want. Don’t drain the juice off, it’s the brine that will allow the cabbage to ferment without going ‘off’. You’ll also notice that the volume of cabbage gets smaller as you massage it.

Homemade sauerkraut

Homemade sauerkraut

Keep massaging until the cabbage is quite soft and limp, almost the consistency it is after being stir-fried or steamed. You want to keep massaging until the volume of the cabbage is reduced by about half. If you used coarse sea salt, it should all be dissolved. If you taste a bit at this point, you’ll notice that the cabbage has lost that sharp, pungent taste that raw cabbage has. I love the cabbage like this, even before it’s fermented. I often use this technique for cabbage and kale when I’m making a salad, sometimes adding a bit of olive oil and massaging that in as well.

Now it’s time to pack the jar that you’ll ferment your sauerkraut in. Grab a few handfuls of cabbage and put them into the jar and add a bit of the brine, just to the top of the cabbage. Reach in with your hand or a wooden spoon and press the cabbage down into the bottom. You want to release any air pockets and pack the cabbage in as tightly as you can. Continue to pack the cabbage into the jar in this way, a few handfuls at a time until you nearly reach the top of the jar.

Add more brine if you need so that all the cabbage is under brine. This prevents bad bacteria from forming during the fermentation process. Take the outer cabbage leaf you saved at the beginning and fold it up so that it will just fit inside the mouth of the jar. You want to use it almost like a lid to keep the sliced cabbage pressed down underneath the brine.

It's easy to make sauerkraut

It's easy to make sauerkraut!

Put the lid on the jar, and leave it out at room temperature for about 4 days. Your fermentation time may vary depending on the temperature and how fermented you like your kraut. Keep out of direct sunlight. Take off the lid once a day to release any gasses that may build up from the fermentation process. You’ll notice the color of the cabbage has changed after massaging it, and it will keep changing over the next few days as it ferments. I always do a taste test starting at day 3, and then daily after that. Once the sauerkraut gets to the point that you like it, put it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. I’ve had some last for about 2 months before I ate it all, and it just kept maturing and getting better.

Makes 1 litre of sauerkraut

This is a great video by fermentation guru Sandor Ellix Katz that shows you just how easy it is to make sauerkraut. This video was really instrumental in getting me started making my own sauerkraut. It shows just how easy it is and gave me the confidence to try it myself. It does a really good job showing how to massage the cabbage. Some good info on the benefits of fermenting vegetables too.