Lacto-fermentation is a great way to preserve vegetables, and locking in their nutrients and increasing the gut-friendly bacteria. Almost any vegetable (and fruit) can be fermented, but perhaps the most famous and fuss-free ferment is sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is made when the sugar in the cabbage is converted to lactic acid, which happens when salt helps to facilitate the growth of good bacteria, lactobacillus. Sauerkraut can be enjoyed several ways, as a side dish, on salad, in a soup and can even be dehydrated into crackers. It is easy to make and can be enjoyed for several months. Once you get the hang of it, it is fun and easy to experiment with spices and flavours.
If you want to learn more about fermentation as well as few other recipes, I run workshops in Brockley, SE4 at the Sunflower Centre.
This recipe is for a powerhouse of a sauerkraut, full of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, heart and brain-loving nutrients, thanks to the turmeric, garlic and mustard seeds. The addition of the black pepper also adds to the anti-inflammatory properties, but it also helps to aid digestion by increasing nutrient absorption and increasing the secretion of stomach acid. Enjoy this sauerkraut as part of any meal or on its own!
1kg white cabbage, washed and shredded (reserve the outer leaves and core)
15g Himalayan salt
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1tbsp turmeric powder
1tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tbsp black peppercorns
Yields 1 litre jar
1. Chop or grate the cabbage (finely or coarsely, depending on your taste) and be sure to save some of the outer leaves as well as the core for packing the jar.
2. Place the cabbage in a large plastic bowl once chopped, sprinkling the salt on the cabbage.
3. Massage the cabbage for about 5 minutes to break down the cabbage and start to draw the water out. Alternatively, you can leave this for 15-30 mins and allow the water to be drawn out naturally.
4. Next, add the garlic and spices and mix until well combined.
5. Once mixed, start packing the cabbage into an airtight preserving jar (i.e. a clip top Kilner or screw top Mason jar). As you pack, tamp it down hard using your fists (if they fit into the jar), a rolling pin or muddling stick. You want to leave about a 3cm gap at the top of the jar.
6. Make sure the cabbage is submersed in liquid, and cover the cabbage with a few of the leftover leaves (you may have to tear these to fit).
7. Place a clean weight (a ramekin, fermenting weight, sterilised stone or the core of the cabbage).
8. Seal the jar and leave the sauerkraut to ferment on the kitchen counter for three days (you will need to ‘burp’ the jar once or twice a day) before transferring it to a cool dark cupboard to ferment from 1-6 weeks—the longer the better.
9. You can check the flavour of the sauerkraut using a wooden or plastic spoon. Once you are happy with the flavour you can transfer the sauerkraut into smaller jars and store it in the fridge. This will keep for 7 or 8 months in the fridge and the flavour will continue to develop.
Allergy info: None