Make your own sauerkraut recipe
Fermented food like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are having a moment, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only do they taste amazing, but according to fermentation specialist, Dr Caroline Gilmartin, because they are packed with nutrients and beneficial probiotic bacteria, they also support a healthy gut - which is very good for you. Evidence suggests that by fuelling our gut, fermented foods can also boost our immune system, metabolism, overall heath and even mood. And preserving food is a great way to reduce waste too.
Dr Gilmartin’s guide to homemade sauerkraut
- A clean jar of at least 500 ml capacity, with or without a lid
- Weighing scales
- A sharp knife
- A chopping board
- A colander
- A large bowl
- Something to submerge the cabbage with – this could be:
- a large firm cabbage leaf
- a zip lock plastic bag filled with salt water
- Use the same amount as vegetables as your jar size, so approx. 500g cabbage for a 500 ml jar, or 1 kilo for a litre jar.
- Salt– approx. 10g for a 500g jar, 20g for a litre jar.
Vegetables. You can use any combination of:
- White cabbage
- Pointed cabbage
- Red cabbage
- a bit of apple
- a bit of beetroot.
Optional extras: caraway seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander, pepper etc.
Make sure you, the equipment and your working area are very clean to avoid contamination.
- Finely slice the cabbage, and place in colander. Rinse well and drain.
- Place an empty bowl on weighing scales and set to zero.
- Add cabbage and record weight.
- Add 2% salt, so that’s 2g of salt for every 100g of cabbage:
- For 1000g cabbage, that’s 20g salt
- For 500g cabbage that’s 10g salt
- For 800g cabbage that’s 16g salt
- Massage with your hands you get a pool of brine. The cabbage will become softer and more see through. If that seems like very hard work, you can batter it with the end of a rolling pin!
- Transfer the crushed cabbage into your jar, (a jam funnel will help), packing well and ensuring no air gaps - you need to leave room for expansion as the microbes will make carbon dioxide gas.
- Now, make sure that no air can get into the jar, so that the good microbes can flourish and to stop mould growing. To do this you need to weigh down the cabbage inside the jar. You can use:
- a plastic food safe disc from a food container
- a small jar, that the lid can press down on
- a large firm cabbage leaf
- a sturdy zip lock plastic bag filled with salt water
- Make sure there is enough salt water in the jar to cover the cabbage mix by one cm. if it doesn’t, make some brine by putting 2g of salt in 100 ml water and add some of that.
- Place your ferment out of direct sunlight at room temperature (18-22 o C), sitting on a plate or tray in case the brine spills over.
- Ferment for 7- 10 days at room temperature.
- Don’t open the jar at all. If you have a clip top jar and are worried about it exploding, just pull the rubber tab on the side.
- After a week or so taste. Leave for longer at room temperature for a softer texture and more mature flavour.
- When done to your liking, keep in the refrigerator.
The do’s and don’ts of fermenting
Chop, wash, weigh, salt!
- Don’t ferment vegetables without salt
- Only use fresh undamaged vegetables or fruit and wash them
- Too tightly sealed jars can explode! Kilner jars with gaskets should allow just enough expansion to prevent a catastrophe
- Do not open your ferments to check them within 72 hours unless absolutely necessary. The pH will not be low enough to prevent possible growth of airborne contaminants.
What to eat with sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is traditionally served with pork or sausages but goes with almost anything savoury. It is delicious as part of a salad ensemble or try in a cheese toastie with a bit of mustard.
Dr Caroline Gilmartin is a fermentation specialist with a background in microbial genetics. She runs the Every Good Thing Fermentary in Bristol where she makes kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi which is for sale in the shop, along with fermentation equipment, as well as running workshops to show you how to make your very own.
Buy her book: Fermented Food a Practical Guide
Follow her on Instagram: @every.good.thing or find fermented foods and courses on her website.
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