Sauerkraut has a lot of great health benefits. It's not just something you put on top of a hot dog, it is so much more. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage which contains the friendly probiotic bacteria your body needs for healthy digestion and strong immune function. Cabbage alone is cruciferous vegetable high in vitamins A and C. Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help lower cholesterol levels and combat cancer. Cabbage is also rich source of phytonutrient antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Fermenting cabbage to make sauerkraut amplifies the health benefits and makes this a superfood.
- Cabbage, red and/or green, shredded
- Sea salt
- Water, preferably distilled
- Fermentation crock or glass jarand a plastic bag
Instructions: Shred your cabbage into thin strips and put it into a large bowl. You can also add other vegetables into the cabbage, my favorite additions are carrots or apples. Add salt to the shredded cabbage, I usually use about 1 tablespoon per head of cabbage. Toss the cabbage to distribute the salt. Now comes the work, using your hands knead the cabbage like you would knead bread. Mix the cabbage and press down with the palm of your hands and squeeze out the juice of the cabbage. Do this for a few minutes until the cabbage looks a little broken down and juicy. Spoon the cabbage mixture into a large glass jar or a fermentation crock. This is what it should look like in the glass jar:
If the juice from the cabbage does not come all the way to the top of the cabbage (which it usually doesn't for me), add water until the cabbage is just covered by liquid. The cabbage needs to be weighed down so that there is a little pressure on it. Since I don't have a fermentation crock I will use a bag of water as my weight. Insert an empty plastic bag into the jar with the opening of the bag outside the top of the jar and fill with water, shown below:
Close up the bag and press down gently to release any air and then close the jar. Leave the jar alone to ferment for a minimum of 5 days. Open the jar once a day to let out some air. Within a day or two it will look like this:
The longer you let the cabbage ferment the more different types of probiotics will form and it will taste stronger the longer it ferments. The time frame you could let it ferment is 5 to 30 days. Once you are done fermenting, spoon the sauerkraut into smaller jars and refrigerate. Once you get the hang of it making sauerkraut is fun and easy.
Do you make your own sauerkraut? What method do you use? Do you have any tips to share?