Fermentation is one of the oldest and safest methods of processing and preserving foods known to humanity. And although it seems a little intimidating, it is actually quite simple to start. This particular way of fermenting cabbage is the easiest and safest place to start experimenting with fermentation. It is much cheaper than buying it, especially that is not always easy to find the right kind in shops. If you were thinking starting playing with fermentation, start with this homemade sauerkraut recipe. There is almost no way to fail at this, if you follow the steps.
Speaking of the right kind of sauerkraut, the only one that has the benefits of lacto-fermentation is the one that has the word RAW mentioned on the label, and you will find it in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets. The others are exposed to heat. Through the fermentation process, the food is transformed nutritionally. The fermented vegetables will be predigested by bacteria, the toxins will be removed, the mineral availability will be improved and it will provide the unique micronutrients that are byproducts of the fermentation process. So, the live bacterial cultures will be available only in non-heated fermented foods (raw). That’s why, sourdough will never have the benefits of raw sauerkraut. The live bacteria stimulate our immune function and have the ability to enhance overall health.
No water, homemade sauerkraut, the best way to start exploring fermentation
What is interesting about this specific method I’m going to present here, is that you don’t need water. For fermentation, you will need a water without chlorine, best is spring water. Chlorine is used in tap water to kill bacteria, so not helpful when you want to cultivate your own bacteria through fermentation. Where I am right now I don’t have access to my water filter, so I decided to try the no water method. This uses the juice released by vegetables.
For one quart size jar (36oz or 1L) you will need about two pounds of vegetables (I used one red cabbage and two carrots) and 1.5% salt (about 2 teaspoons). You have to use non iodized salt. I did add spices to mine, but they are optional.
Make sure you start with a very clean environment. Clean jar, clean hands, clean working surface and utensils. You will chop or grate the vegetables in order to expose as much of the surface area, transfer to a bowl and lightly salt it and massage it with you hands and squeeze it, breaking the down the walls and enable them to release as much of the juices as possible. I sliced the cabbage finely and I grated the carrots. You can taste it, making sure there is enough salt (it usually is if you follow the above). If you want to add spices, now is the time. The following will work for homemade sauerkraut: mustard seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, cloves and all spice.
Stuff it in the jar making sure you press down as much as possible. The solid vegetables will go down and the juices will stay on top. Close the jar lightly – I only put the lid on without closing it completely. Other methods will tell you to use a clean towel, that’s fine too, but I feel like the jar lid is ok, as long as it is not hermetically closed.
Leave the jar of homemade sauerkraut on the kitchen counter, and every morning and evening open it and press down the vegetables with a clean spoon. I like to taste it every day and see how it changes. Please don’t double dip :)). Depending on the temperature in the room, it can take from 4-5 days to two weeks to get where you want it to be, but it also depends on your taste. My kitchen was pretty warm and in the fifth day I closed the jar and transferred it in fridge (or a cold pantry). I like it when it’s not too sour.
So, let’s just recap. This is what you need:
- 1 quart / 36oz / 1L jar with lid
- 2 pounds vegetables: 1 small to medium red cabbage and 2 big carrots
- 2 teaspoons sea salt / Himalayan pink salt (NOT iodized)
- clean working surface
- clean chopping board
- knife and grater (or a vegetable shredder that can deal with both cabbage and carrots)
- big mixing bowl
- spices (optional)
You can certainly use any vegetables you want with your cabbage, but the idea is, if you don’t use water, to cut them small (shred or grate them) so they release as much juice as possible. White cabbage is great too. You can also use only cabbage, whatever color you prefer.
Have a little bit of homemade sauerkraut with your eggs, next to meat or chicken, or mix it with cooked and raw vegetables. It will work well with the Lectin-Light Pork Paprikash and in general, with any stew like dish.