Is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.
Many health benefits have been claimed for sauerkraut.
- It is a source of vitamins B, C, and K; the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage. It is also low in calories and high in calcium and magnesium, and it is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copperand manganese.
- If unpasteurized and uncooked, sauerkraut also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes. The fiber and supply of probiotics improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract.
- Sauerkraut has been used in Europe for centuries to treat stomach ulcers, and its effectiveness for soothing the digestive tract has been well established by numerous studies.
- Raw sauerkraut is distinctly different from store-bought, canned sauerkraut. While many food manufacturers can or jar their kraut using heat in order to extend shelf life, raw sauerkraut is lacto-fermented and is alive with good bacteria and probiotics. Raw sauerkraut is fermented over days or weeks at room temperature, packaged into jars with its own brine solution, then refrigerated to preserve the vitamins, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria without any heat. The lactic acid creates beneficial intestinal flora, balances stomach pH both directions, and helps break down proteins.
There are numerous recipes, but below is a basic go to Sauerkraut recipe to get you started.
I like to add a bit of shredded carrot, and about a tablespoon of Caraway seed for each quart (for this recipe about 3.5 tbs), but there are a million different variations. Experiment until you find the volume and taste that work best for you.
TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD SAUERKRAUT
- Use fresh cabbage. The better your ingredients, the better the finished product will be. You can use green, purple, or any combination you like.
- Use at least some salt. Salt is a traditional ingredient in sauerkraut because it increases shelf life, texture, and flavor. The amount of salt used can vary according to personal taste preference. We recommend 1 to 3 Tbsp. per quart of water.
- Create an anaerobic environment. This is an absolute essential in the sauerkraut-making process. The cabbage must be completely submerged underneath a brine in order for the lactic acid bacteria to proliferate. This is important for protecting your ferment from unwanted bacteria (or mold). Fermentation weights can help keep your cabbage submerged.
- Give it time. You can ferment sauerkraut for only a few days before moving to cold storage, but giving sauerkraut a lower temperature and longer fermentation time can develop the flavor and texture a little better. We suggest letting it ferment for 2 weeks, but again experiment with time and taste to find what time frame works best for you.
For a more complex flavor add caraway seeds (to taste).
Prior to culturing, you can also mix 1 part other vegetables or ingredients (shredded carrots, apples, etc.) with 5 parts cabbage to vary the recipe.
Or try one of these sauerkraut recipes:
- 1 tablespoon Sea Salt
- 1 Medium Head of Cabbage
- Chop or shred cabbage. Sprinkle with salt.
- Knead the cabbage with clean hands, or pound with a potato masher or Cabbage Crusher about 10 minutes, until there is enough liquid to cover.
- Stuff the cabbage into a quart jar, pressing the cabbage underneath the liquid. If necessary, add a bit of water to completely cover cabbage.
- Cover the jar with an air tight lid.
- Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) for at least 2 weeks until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, "burp" daily to release excess pressure.
- Once the sauerkraut is finished, replace and tighten lid on the jar, and move to cold storage. The sauerkraut's flavor will continue to develop as it ages.