Fermented foods have been used by people for centuries mainly in order to preserve the food. However as we learn now these foods are not only delicious but also very nutritious. Fermented vegetables preserve and enhance B and C vitamins; they make nutrients more available; they help digestion; no chemical preservatives are used in such processes; they support health due to the presence of live bacteria and their metabolites.
I have already shared a really good recipe with kombucha as a starter for fermentation. Today I would like to share my improved recipe of sauerkraut fermented old fashioned way. Some experts also call it spontaneous fermentation because this fermentation happens due to spontaneously occurring microorganisms from the surrounding environment. This fermentation depends on what microorganisms are present on vegetables, tools and utensils you are using for fermentation (they are not sterile!) and even what microbes are in your air!
Things to do before fermenting
It is however important to follow certain guidances so please follow the recipe.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals in your kitchen and home in general because these toxic chemicals will harm your health, your home microbiome and may negatively effect your fermentation process by killing all the beneficial and neutral (not harmful) bacteria in the air. I love using microfiber cloths for that. I can only use water with them to remove 99% of bacteria from the surface.
- Do you homework and study the process of fermentation. There is a great book by Sandor Ellix Katz – The Art of Fermentation. I highly encourage to read it.
3. Make sure your dishes and hands are clean.
Here I would like to share the recipe of the best sauerkraut I have ever had – fermented cabbage using kombucha tea. To remind you, kombucha – is a fermented tea filled with loads of good bacteria called probiotics. You can check out my recipe on how to make kombucha.
- Glass Fermentation Crock (5L) – Mortier Pilon is an easy to use crock for fermenting any vegetables. It is made of glass so you can watch the process which is really cool! It does include the weight and the recipe book which can be helpful for the beginners.
- Glass Jar (1.5-2 L ) – these are my favorite wide neck jars. They are extremely convenient when you are trying to pack a bunch of sauerkraut in them.
- Pickle Packer – this is the tool to pack your cabbage very tightly into the crock for before fermenting it. It allows you to pound the cabbage and draw the liquid out of it which will turn into brine.
- Cabbage Slicer – I recently fell in love with my Pampered Chef Slicer. Thinest setting on the slicer is my favorite. I also heard incredible things about Boner Mandoline which is slightly more expensive but will serve you many years.
- At least 8 Qt stainless steel or glass bowl. This bowl was just enough for the amount of cabbage I used. I do however plan to invest in a bigger (20 Qt) bowl because I go through this sauerkraut pretty quickly and I would love to just make one big batch and enjoy it for a month.
- Cutting board to cut cabbage heads into quarters
- 2 Finely Shredded Heads of White Cabbage (about 4 pounds = 2 kg)
- 1 Finely Shredded Head of Red Cabbage (about 2 pounds = 1 kg)
- 2 medium sized shredded carrots
- 2 – 2.5 tbsp Himalayan Sea Salt
- Organic Black Peppercorns
- Organic Coriander Seeds
- Organic Cumin Seeds
- Other spice to taste
- Place finely shredded cabbage, carrots, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, and salt in a large glass or stainless steel bowl.
2. Massage the cabbage and mix it at the same time. Massaging and squeezing the shredded cabbage helps to draw the liquid from it. He is a short video clip of how I did it with a different batch. Make sure you have clean hands during this process! If you do not have enough brine your kraut you can leave the cabbage in a bowl and come back in 20-30 min. This may help the cabbage to release more liquid.
3. Pack the cabbage into the glass or ceramic crock using wooden pickle packer. Press the cabbage with the wooden packer so that all the air comes out and the liquid comes out. We need as much of this liquid to come out as possible to completely cover the cabbage. This is a very important
4. Place the weight over the cabbage and optionally (if there is room in the crock) you can place another heavy weight on top of it (0.25 L glass jar filled with water in my case).
5. Let the cabbage sit undisturbed at room temperature (the temperature of my kitchen was 22 ºC), out of direct sunlight, for at least 7 days. The longer you ferment the more potentially probiotic bacteria called Lactobacilli you will have in your sauerkraut. So be patient and wait! Do not mind all other bottles and jars around on the picture below. It was my big fermentation day!
6. Transfer the cabbage into a clean glass jar once it is ready to store in the refrigerator.
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