This is a basic staple in any real food home. Fermented cabbage — sauerkraut — is a traditional food eaten all over the world. It is readily available in grocery stores, but unfortunately, most is no longer made the traditional way. Commonly, store bought sauerkraut is pickled in vinegar and sugar and may also have preservatives. While there are some companies that make it the traditional way, they still have to heat the product if it is in a jar. That kills the beneficial bacteria. The whole point of fermented food is that it is alive! We should be eating living foods. You just need to get over the fear of not doing it right. It’s very hard to make a mistake with this recipe!
Cabbage is embedded with bacteria so you do not really need to use starter. If you do not use a starter culture, you need to use salt in order to preserve the cabbage until the bacteria take over. Either way works fine. I just started to use a culture starter and I actually like the taste of the cabbage better with minimal salt. You can add other chopped or grated vegetables or herbs for different flavors and interest. This is a simple basic recipe but really anything goes with fermented vegetables!
As with any new venture in cultured foods, start with very small portions and gradually increase the portion size and frequency. You don’t want to overwhelm your digestive system with too much good bacteria all at once. Traditionally, cultured foods were used as condiments — small portions to accompany a meal.
It’s my goal to eat a small portion of a cultured food at each meal, as this provides enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria. I do like the sauerkraut sprinkled on my salad!
- 1 small head of organic cabbage
- 2 medium organic carrots
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (where to buy sea salt)
- Culture starter (where to buy culture starter) (starter culture is optional or instead of salt)
- Spring water or filtered water
- Quart mason jar and lid
- Food processor or knife
- Use the grate attachment for the food processor and process the cabbage and carrots
- Take handfuls of the cabbage and stuff it into the jar pressing down firmly
- If you are using salt sprinkle a little salt on each layer
- Fill the jar in this way
- If you are using starter culture, in a separate cup mix the culture starter in 1/4 cup of water
- Pour this into the jar, mix and press down
- Make sure that all the cabbage is covered with water
- Leave at least one inch from the top of the jar for expansion
- Cover the jar
- If you are using the starter it takes 7 days on the counter to ferment (although you could keep it out longer)
- If you are using just salt it takes at least 14 days to ferment but again you may keep it out longer
- Once finished keep in the refrigerator where it will keep for a very long time
- Add garlic, apple chunks, herbs, etc. for different flavors
- Sometimes the cabbage floats to the top of the jar. Check the jar each day and make sure it is submerged under the water. Push it under if it is not.
- If you see mold growing on the top of the sauerkraut, fear not. It is not ruined. Just scrape off the top layer, add water and push the cabbage down into the water again.
- With any fermented food, if it smells bad, discard. It should not smell bad.
- Sometimes foods ferment too quickly and get moldy or bad. This can happen to anyone. With experience you will become a pro!