St. Patrick’s Day is a great time of year to learn how to make sauerkraut!
I don’t know the history of how it is associated with this holiday but I do know that I like it. A lot.
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is thinly sliced cabbage fermented by lactobacillus bacteria. Sometimes there are a few spices added or a sprinkling of carrot shavings for color.
During the fermentation process the bacteria feed off the cabbage sugar and convert it into lactic acid. Lactic acid serves as a preservative thereby preventing spoilage without refrigeration or canning.
I always thought of sauerkraut originating from Germany or Ireland since those are the ethnic dishes it is most used in. However, kraut dates back a few more thousand years to China. Apparently it was staple fare for the builders of the Great Wall.
Why should I eat sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help your gut break down nutrients. A 1/4 cup at each meal is a great (and cheap) digestive aid.
This fermented cabbage is packed with nutrients that only become available after the fermentation process. Sauerkraut packs a healthy punch with vitamins A, C, a few B, and K. Colder climates depended on it for its ability to prevent scurvy through vitamin C; especially sailors. It also contains the minerals iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium and calcium.
There are several other studies that tote sauerkraut’s cancer fighting
Related Post: How to Make Kombucha
Why make sauerkraut when I can just buy it?
When you buy sauerkraut you have to read labels carefully. The only ingredients you want are cabbage (and possibly other veggies) and salt. Some brands add in preservatives, color enhancers and extra flavors. Many mainstream sauerkraut brands aren’t truly fermented, either. To speed production, vinegar is used instead resulting in a beneficial bacterial desert.
Packaging is also a point to consider when purchasing kraut. The high temperatures of canning destroy many bacteria. If the sauerkraut is packaged in plastic or BPA lined cans there is bound to be leaching into the food.
It’s super cheap! Have you checked the price of cabbage in the store? In my area it is one of the cheapest vegetables I can buy. And salt. A few tablespoons of high quality sea salt isn’t going to break your bank. Or else you can just plan to grow it in your garden!
It’s super easy! Just slice the cabbage (I use my food processor), pound out the juices, pack it in jars and close. That’s it. No freezing or canning or babysitting.
How to Make Sauerkraut
I make my sauerkraut in the late summer early fall with cabbage from my garden.
- Peel the outer damaged leaves off the cabbage head.
- Cut the head in half and each half in half again. This exposes the core and makes it easy to carve out of each quarter. You don’t have to cut out the core, I just don’t prefer its toughness in my sauerkraut.
- Thinly slice the cabbage. I have a food processor. I put the slicing blade on and feed small sections of cabbage through the shoot.
- Pour cabbage in a big bowl or pan and mix in the salt. It is important to use single ingredient salt! Many salt varieties contain anti-caking agents or iodine. These extra ingredients will affect the fermenting process.
- Pound the cabbage with a wooden pounder or meat hammer until the juices start building up.
- Pack the kraut in wide mouth quart jars until the juices ooze over the top. Fill the jars no more than 1 inch from the top.
- Store at room temperature for 3 days.
- Move to cool storage. Sauerkraut2017-03-14 18:50:23Write a reviewIngredients
- 1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- Mix cabbage and salt together in a bowl. Pound until the juices release from the cabbage - 5 to 10 minutes. Put some cabbage into the jar and press with the pounder until juices come to the top. Add a bit more and press again. Repeat this until the cabbage is no more than 1 inch from the top of the jar.
- Place the lid on tightly and keep at room temperature for 72 hours or so. Transfer the sauerkraut to cool storage.
- I like to wait 2 or 3 months for the flavor to develop before eating but it is ready to eat right away.
Traditional Homemaker https://www.traditionalhomemaker.com/
- Remember to use salt that has only "salt" as the ingredient.