A while ago I began to hear a lot about ‘fermented’ foods and their probiotic properties and how they helped with digestion. As I began to explore, one of the first foods I tried to ‘ferment’ was cabbage. Personally, I was never a fan of the store bought variety. But I pressed on, and tried it. My first batch turned out wonderful, my next was a total botch. I was totally confused. After a few trials and errors, I found a fool proof recipe and a little step I take as ‘insurance’ to make sure it turns out alright. Really, its a balance of salt versus time; time for the bad bacterial to be held off by the salt till the good bacterial can grow and flourish. And a side note, it will stink at first. But that’s normal. One day I dream to own a real krauting pot, but right now I use a mason jar or an old crock. Both work because as long as you keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid, it will go to town. Here’s what you’ll need.
Two heads of cabbage
Two Tbsp of unrefined sea salt
2 cups of water
A small plate or a small glass
Something to mash the cabbage with
First. You’re going to want to slice your cabbage thin. I don’t use a mandolin, but I’ve heard they are amazing. I use a sharp knife and a homemade cutting board.
As you slice the cabbage, toss it into the large bowl
Once finished, sprinkle all the salt over the cabbage and mix with your fingers.
Leave it for a half hour
When you return the cabbage will have ‘leaked’ water. YAY! If you can, pound it a bit to bruise the cabbage, but its not necessary. Let it rest a bit longer.
Get your jar or crock ready. Fill it will the watery cabbage, pressing it down hard as you fill it. (wide mouth jars work best) Once it’s filled, press the cabbage down BELOW the water line.
If you have room, take a cup of warm water and sprinkle a 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt and stir till dissolved. Pour into your jar. Take a smaller jar or glass and press down the cabbage, then put a lid on your jar, holding the smaller jar or glass down and keeping the cabbage below the waterline.
Hooray! You’re done…for the next few days. Every few days ‘burp’ the jar to let the gas that is a result of the awesome fermentation going on. The cabbage will bubble and after a few days begin to taste sour. Taste it every few days till you are happy with the result and then store it in the fridge for up to six months.
Not so hard huh? Let’s re-cap. You shred the cabbage, sprinkle salt over it. Wait. Press it into a jar, cover with a bit of salt water and press it down with a glass and then screw a lid on. When I put it that way, it’s a cinch, right? You’ll love the tangy taste of the fresh sauerkraut and your body will LOVE the probiotics and vitamins from the cabbage and fermentation process. You want to keep a healthy gut. 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Bet you didn’t know that. So especially during the flu and cold season, stock up on this friendly little fermented treat. You’ll be glad you did.