Kitchen & Garden, Medicine Chest

what’s all the fuss with fermentation? DIY sauerkraut

While fermented foods are the trend right now, the actual process of fermentation was originally implemented to preserve foods (back in the days when refrigeration wasn’t around). These days, on top of being a great preservation method, fermented foods tout a whole heap of health benefits and taste delish!

What is fermentation?

A metabolic process in which microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and fungi breakdown complex components to increase the flavour, nutrition and medicinal value of certain foods.

Lactic acid bacteria is among the principal bacteria active in food fermentation. You may be familiar with the species Lactobacillithe ‘friendly’ bacteria that does an amazing job at rebuilding the beneficial microorganism population in your digestive tract. Thereby improving your digestion (which is central to naturopathic healing) and in doing this providing a range of benefits such as boosting the immune system.

Quality fermented foods (kombucha, tempeh, kim chee, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir, miso… to name a few) are available in some health food stores, however to gain maximum benefits from fermented foods it’s a great idea to jump in the kitchen and make your own.

Homemade sauerkraut is one of our favs!

What do I need?

  • 1 cabbage cored and shredded (purple or white- or a mix both)
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1 clove minced garlic (optional)
  • 3 tablespoon sea salt
  • Mason jar

What next?

1. In a bowl, mix prepared vegetables and salt

2. Pound with potato masher or even use your hands to release juices (about 10 minutes)

A rainbow of veggie goodness
A rainbow of veggie goodness

3. Place in a jar and press down firmly until juices come to top of vegetables (I find using my fists is the easiest!)

4. Place a cabbage leaf  over the surface to hold down the shredded veggies below the liquid

5. Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for at least 2 weeks

Settling in for some fermentation time
Settling in for some fermentation time
After weeks of fermenting, my sauerkraut is an explosion of pink!

6. Once you are happy with the taste, store with a lid in the refrigerator. Mould may form on the top cabbage leaf- make sure you remove and discard of

Some tips:

  • If possible, use the best quality ingredients such as organic vegetables
  • After a couple of days of fermentation, the vegetables begin to soften and ‘predigest’.  The sauerkraut is ready to be eaten however will continue to develop in flavour and nutrition after several weeks of fermentation. The best guide is your own taste.

Further information on fermentation

Sandor Katz’s book The Art of Fermentation. He is considered ‘the master of fermentation’.

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