Sauerkraut is one of our first and probably our most favourite ferment. If you have ever tried homemade ‘kraut, you will know how superior it is to anything you can buy in the shops!
For those of you who don’t know, sauerkraut is a lacto-fermented condiment. It’s name is German, meaning sour cabbage.
Traditionally, sauerkraut is made with salted cabbage that is left to ferment. A lacto-ferment uses the bacteria lactobacillus which converts the sugars found naturally in the vegetable, into lactic acid – giving sauerkraut its deliciously tangy taste!
The process is thousands of years old and was one of the main ways we preserved foods before the refrigerator era, alongside canning and curing foods. ‘Krauts are full of millions upon millions of amazing probiotics, making them immense gut-health foods and considering how easy they are to make we think everyone should be doing it!
We’ve been experimenting with sauerkraut recipes the last few years, but the basic process remains the same. Chop, salt, jar, ferment...
Here’s a recipe for a slightly different type of cabbage ‘kraut we came up with recently.
We have used lemongrass and juniper berries to add an aromatic and extra yum flavour.
This is a small recipe enough for about a 500ml jar but feel free to double up this recipe if you want to make more.
You will need:
- Half head of cabbage
- 10-15 juniper berries
- 1 stick of lemongrass
- 1 clean jar
- 1tbsp good quality salt
First you will want to wash your cabbage and chop.
How you chop your cabbage is up to you, we prefer a mixed sliced but feel free to have more chunky and thick or just thin slices too!
Pop your cabbage in a mixing bowl. Chop the lemongrass finely and crush the juniper berries to release their fragrance, grab your salt and then chuck it all over the cabbage.
Once you have all your ingredients in the bowl, massage it thoroughly with your hands until the cabbage starts to soften and release its water.
You will want to leave this for a while (between 30mins and 1hr) so the salt can draw out the water content from the cabbage.
Once the cabbage and other ingredients have softened you will need to pack in down into your jar. We do this with the help of a rolling pin!
Keep filling your jar up with the cabbage, you will notice the liquid from the cabbage will be released and will start to fill the jar up. You want all of the ingredients to be covered by this water to protect it from external nasties that could make your sauerkraut go bad.
If the cabbage is still sticking out over the liquid, just top up with a little salted water until it is.
Pop the lid on and keep the ‘kraut somewhere safe where it isn’t going to fluctuate in temperature much for approximately 2 weeks.
You will notice some gas bubbles and maybe even some foam on top of the liquid – these are both signs that the fermentation is happening!
You should start tasting and checking your kraut after 5-7 days. It will be done when it stops tasting cabbage-y and starts tasting more tangy, tart and no longer like traditional cabbage.
We recommend tasting it daily, you will start to notice the subtle changes in taste and get to know at what point you like your ‘kraut.
If in doubt – leave it longer!
The best ‘krauts are fermented for 2+ months, but we’ve never been able to be that patient.
Once you have got your ‘kraut to your liking, simply pop it in the fridge and use whenever you like. It goes great in salads, on the side instead of coleslaw, in sandwiches etc!
If you like it and its a success, we employ you to get experimental with it next time. Add different veggies, spices, herbs.
It is very rewarding fermenting and eating your own recipes. There is something alchemical in the whole process of making and tasting your food and seeing how it changes without you having to do much to it!
The Plant Path Folk