One fine wintery evening- with a bag full of cabbages and a couple of friends we decided to make SAUERKRAUT. (sour cabbage translated literally but very delicious!) It’s a great thing to do with a glut, excess or soon to go bad cabbages…and goes very well with veggie sausages!
Sauerkraut, perhaps the easiest and tastiest cultured food around! Joe of Greenbroom tells us why fermented foods are so good and goes into exactly how to make awesome sauerkraut…
Every traditional society had some kind of cultured food, from cheese, bread, mead, ale to kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, tej, idli and many many others.
Circa 1900 a nutritionist and dentist, Weston Price, travelled the world studying a wide selection of native tribes, some of which were isolated and so eating their traditional diet, some of which had been exposed to ‘modern’ foods such as sugar, jams, refined grains etc. He found that those on the traditional diet were in vastly superior health, far more fit and robust and did not get ill, whereas the others were feeble, decrepit, invalids (my words not his) in comparison.
Upon looking into the diets he found there was a huge range, some were near total carnivores, some total vegetarians but all had some kind of fermented food which, rather than the peasant food status they have today, were considered to be the richest, most valued food in the civilisation. They often had mythical legends about such foods.
Nowadays we are beginning to understand the benefits of friendly bacteria, some of us may even consume yakult or other bioactive yoghurt. Cultured, or fermented foods, are the original yakult, though not necessarily dairy based. They are full of bacteria and often a wider, more natural spectrum of them. These not only help to digest food, boost the immune system and regulate the bowels, but also create many nutrients for us, including B12, Vitamin K and many other co-factors and micronutrients both within the foods and in the gut.
By predigesting the food they also release and many more bioavailable many other nutrients. For instance, cabbage is rich in powerful anti-cancer chemicals, isothiocyanates, however they are bound up as glucosinolates in raw cabbage only the action of fermentation breaks them down into isothiocyanates.
For other foods, like soy beans and some roots, they make them more digestible.
This is only a very slim peek into the broad range of benefits and the science behind it, to get a better picture, and indeed to find out about other ferments I recommend ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz, who is a legend! And has managed to regulate AIDS with the use of fermented foods.
How to make sauerkraut
As with many natural processes, most fermentations are simple, easy and very forgiving.
All you need for sauerkraut is a load of cabbage and something to put them in. I use kilner jars, some people use buckets. This type of fermentation is meant to be anaerobic, without oxygen, so some way to seal it is handy, but not essential. The juices from the cabbage should rise above the bulk material and prevent oxygen from entering.
So all you have to do is chop up the cabbage, it can be grated or roughly chopped depending whether you want some crunch or not, i love the crunch so i just chop it up with a knife. Then scrunch it up with some salt, about a big pinch per bowl. You have to scrunch it up until it is quite soggy and squelchy (these are very specific, scientific terms… ish), then just ram it into the container you will keep it in. Keep doing this until the container is full. To give a rough estimate i use about 2 medium sized cabbages per 2L kilner jar. If you are using an open contained simply put a plate on top and weigh it down with something, this covers it a bit and gives enough pressure for the juice to rise above the cabbage. In a kilner jar it is likely that the juice might splurge out in the first couple of days, so best put it on a plate or something.
All you do then is leave it for a week or more and eat. The longer you leave it the stronger the flavour, it tastes amazing after a few months!
You can use it as a condiment/side with almost anything. It also makes an amazing soup with some root veg, and is especially good for fighting colds.
You can also play with adding almost anything to the kraut, i’ve really enjoyed coriander seeds, broccoli, asparagus, leeks, aubergine… well basically everything i’ve tried as come out super yummy in its own unique and bizzare way.
Here are some photos from Abundance exploits into lacto-fermenting cabbage with Joe’s help in a very natural, cheap and easy way to preserve your veg.
Thanks to Joe from Green Broom (www.greenbroom.coop; https://www.facebook.com/groups/216614285132759/events) our avid sauerkrautist friend for writing us this lovely blog! If you feel inspired to share your adventures into preserving/brewing or other adventures in reducing food waste- please do! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to offer up a blog post and share your skills! Or comment below 🙂 THANKS !