SAUERKRAUT IS A PROBIOTIC FOOD
Some of the health benefits of sauerkraut include its ability to increase your digestive health, boost your circulation, protect your heart health, provide you with quick energy, stimulate your immune system, strengthen your bones, reduce your overall cholesterol levels, eliminate inflammation, protect against certain cancer, and even improve your vision and skin health.
Fermented foods are commonly found in cultures throughout the world, but sauerkraut is one that has managed to find a global market, and is popular throughout Europe, Asia, and America.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF SAUERKRAUT
Sauerkraut contains high levels of dietary fiber, as well as significant levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and various B vitamins. Furthermore, it is a good source of iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, in addition to contributing a moderate amount of protein to your diet.
Strong Bones: The wide range of minerals found in sauerkraut make it ideal for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. The high level of vitamin K (23% of daily recommended intake in a single serving), which is a somewhat uncommon mineral, is particularly important for maintaining the integrity and strength of your bones, as vitamin K produces the proteins that regulate bone mineralization!
RECIPE: TWO-INGREDIENT SAUERKRAUT
- 1 large bowl
- 1 half-gallon jar or 2 quart jars
- Knife and cutting board
- Small jam jar, root vegetable slice, or fermentation weight
- Desired lid or clean towel
- Potato masher or kraut pounder
- Food Funnel (optional)
- 2 medium heads organic green cabbage
- ~3 Tablespoons sea salt
- Water, if needed
- Cut the cabbage in half vertically. Remove the core on each half by slicing around it in an upside down V shape. Cut in half again and shred the cabbage finely as for coleslaw. Place cabbage shreds in large bowl and continue with the remaining cabbage.
- Once all of the cabbage has been chopped, sprinkle over the salt. Mix it all together with clean hands, massaging the salt into the cabbage as you go. At this point taste the cabbage. If it tastes bland, as if lacking salt, then sprinkle in just a little more. It should taste well-seasoned but not overly salty.
- At this point, you can pound the kraut with a potato masher or kraut pounder if you like. This begins the process of breaking down the cabbage which releases the liquid necessary for the brine. This isn’t necessary, but I do recommend it for beginners. Alternatively, you can leave the salted cabbage, covered, in the bowl for several hours to let the salt extract the moisture from the cabbage.
- The kraut is now ready to be placed into jars for fermentation. This is easiest to do with clean hands. Simply take fistfuls of the now slightly limp cabbage and move it carefully to the mason jars. After every couple of handfuls, compact the cabbage into the jar with a fist. Be sure to pour in any brine left in the bottom of the bowl. If the cabbages were fairly dry or didn’t produce enough of their own brine for whatever reason, additional brine can be added as needed. A ratio of ½ Tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water should be used.
- Fill the jar(s) up to 1.5-2 inches from the top.
- You now need to weigh the kraut down so that it sits below the level of the brine. To do this you can use a thick slice of root vegetable – turnips or beets work well, a purchased fermentation weight, or a small jam jar that fits into the opening of the jar you decanted the kraut into.
- If using the root vegetable or fermentation weight, simply place them in the jar atop the cabbage and press down until the level of the brine comes well over the kraut and root vegetable/weight. Cap with airtight lid of your choice.
- If using the jam jar, carefully place the clean jar into the mouth of the ferment jar and press down so that the level of the brine comes well above the kraut. You now need to cover the opening of the fermentation jar and jam jar with a clean towel to keep out bugs or undesirable debris. This is done most easily with a rubber band. If using this method, I recommend placing your jar(s) on a plate to catch any overflow of vegetable brine.
- It is now time to allow the kraut to ferment. This is best done at 60-80 degrees and will ferment more rapidly the warmer the environment is. During the process carbon dioxide is produced, so any bubbling you notice is desirable. If you have used an airtight lid you will need to “burp” the jar so that the pent up gases do not cause an explosion in the jar. This is done simply by slowly opening the lid, allowing it to “fizz” out for just a second and quickly sealing it back up. With the jam jar method the gases will naturally release through the opening.
- Fermentation should be visible after a few days, but that doesn’t mean it’s complete. If your ambient fermentation temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees, a fermentation time of 1-2 weeks at room temperature produces a well-flavored kraut.
- At this point you can move your kraut to cold storage – be it a refrigerator, root cellar, or basement – a space between 40 and 60 degrees is optimal. The kraut will continue to ferment and may change in appearance over time. A little bit of browning may occur on top, if the brine does not cover the kraut at some point. This is fine, but it can be scraped aside and thrown out if desired. Just be sure to cover the remaining kraut with brine either by weighting it down or adding more salt brine solution in a ratio of .5 Tablespoon salt to 1 cup pure water.
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