It is well known that food is my first port of call when it comes to treating ailments - I go on about it enough! Sauerkraut, I think, is probably one of the best examples of a food which can, for some, veto the need for popping a pill. Probiotics and good bacteria are talked about on pretty much every other TV ad going - I've even just written a post about it all . They come in many forms, but not all are created equal. From natural yoghurt to the more expensive bottles of probiotics, you can get your daily fix in a variety of ways. However, if you are lactose intolerant or don't eat dairy for other reasons, it can be a little trickier to find something that is both reliable and suitable... cue Sauerkraut.
It's actually taken me a while to get around to making a regular batch of sauerkraut... now I can't even remember what was stopping me. It is SO EASY! When I discovered that you could use more vegetables than just cabbage and add different spices for different flavours, I bought the sauerkraut making bug and am looking forward to a life experimenting with many variations.
Makes 2.5-3 litres
1 red cabbage
1 white cabbage
2 bulbs fennel
2-3tbsp caraway seeds
2-3tbsp pink Himalayan salt
Organic vegetables are best used when making sauerkraut – the use of pesticides and chemicals in non-organic vegetables may affect the growth of beneficial bacteria.
You will need: a 3L glass jar with a lid – I use Kilner or similar.
Sterilise the jar by filling it to the top with boiling water from the kettle. Empty and allow to drip dry upside down on a drying rack. You can also run it through the dishwasher, if you have one.
Wash all vegetables. Remove the outer cabbage leaves (these will be used later) Shred, grate or finely chop all ingredients. Put in a large mixing bowl along with the salt and caraway seeds. Squeeze and massage with your hands for 5-10 minutes – I’d recommend wearing plastic gloves, unless you’re going for the pink hand look. The water from the vegetables will release – keep going until the water comes approximately two thirds of the way up the side of the bowl.
Transfer to the sterilised glass jar and cover with two or three of the cabbage leaves. If you turn them inside out, they become more rigid and create a close seal. Weigh down with a ramekin or similar (whatever fits int he jar - you can see a little space is left in this jar). Close the lid and leave for 3-10 days. 3 Days is the minimum amount of time - the longer you leave it, the more potent the probiotics will be.
After your chosen fermentation period, divide and transfer into smaller jars - these are great for giving to friends and family. Keep in the fridge and eat twice a day with meals for best results.
NB: Keep an eye out for white mould on the top during the fermentation period (don't get put off by the possibility of this happening, it rarely does). If this occurs it doesn’t mean that the batch is ruined – it’s just because some of the mixture hasn’t been fully submerged in the liquid. Spoon all the mould off and re-seal.