“To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest—on behalf of the senses and the microbes—against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else’s.”
There could be no truer words. Conducting your own fermentation experiments is an empowering and satisfying process. At first, it may seem intimidating, but once you get the hang of it—so simple! All that’s required is a bit of patience waiting for the finished product. Sauerkraut is an example of lacto-fermentation—using the strains of lacto bacteria present on the surface of all plants, especially those growing close to the ground (ie. does not require the introduction of outside yeasts). The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage. Making your own kraut or purchasing raw kraut that you find in the refrigerated section at the store are the only ways to ensure you receive all the benefits. Most canned krauts have been heated and contain vinegar.
Sauerkraut is the ultimate kitchen staple for me. I’ve literally eaten an avocado with sauerkraut for lunch every day for probably the last ten years. Serving a little side of sauerkraut with any meal is an easy way to increase digestibility and nutrition.
| Ingredients |
- 2 medium cabbage heads, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt
- *For a classic kraut, add in a few tablespoons of caraway seeds, or feel free to vary the spices to your preference
| Directions |
- Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl and begin to squeeze the cabbage and salt together with your hands, squeezing and massaging it gently to release the water and break down the cabbage fibers.
- When the cabbage has become limp and reduced to approximately ⅓ of its size, transfer it to a sauerkraut crock or wide mouth jar. Pack the cabbage into the vessel as tightly as you can, reducing any air bubbles. Make sure the cabbage is completely covered by its liquid. You can use a weight (ie. a jar full of water) or, if you are using a crock, they provide weights to place on top the cabbage to make sure it stays fully submerged. You want the cabbage to be completely covered by the liquid or it will mold.
- Cover loosely and allow it to ferment at room temperature for at least a month. Fermentation times will vary depending on your environment. For a more sour kraut—ferment longer.
Once complete the kraut will last in the refrigerator for 6 months to 1 year.
Makes 1 Gallon