Sauerkraut is a dish of chopped or shredded cabbage which is fermented with naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria. It is a traditional dish that we think of as German (but is common in many cultures) which is easy to make and is long lasting. It may be “traditional” but it is trending now as fermented food and beverages are said to provide healthy bacteria for our digestion. When unpasteurized and uncooked sauerkraut provides “probiotics”. While we can buy sauerkraut in any grocery store, packaged sauerkraut is typically pasteurized, which is a problem for those lactobacilli bacteria (it kills them), enzymes and microbes.
Other than providing us with probiotic digestion benefits and the vitamins and minerals from the cabbage itself, sauerkraut has been linked to anti-cancer properties. A (2002) Finnish study found that sauerkraut fermentation produces isothiocyanates which inhibited the growth of cancer cells. A (2010) Polish study found cabbage juice enzymes may prevent cancers. As a bonus, sauerkraut contains Lutein which is good for our eyes – and is preventative in Macular Degeneration. “Population studies suggest that people who consume higher amounts of lutein in their diet have a reduced risk of developing AMD.“
Sauerkraut for all of its touted health benefits is yummy on hot dogs – which aren’t good for me at all – but oh well………..
So during this time of nesting during our Coronavirus social distancing we thought we would make some preserves. We had been watching assorted cooking videos on Youtube and liked this particular one from Caitlin Shoemaker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psjasIbndnA. We made 3 different varieties of Sauerkraut – there are many varieties out there, but you could just use non-iodized salt and cabbage and that would do it, but we went a bit further.
Simple sauerkraut is just shredded or chopped cabbage with salt. You can ferment other vegetables as we did like beets and carrots, but I would caution you not to try fruit like apples and pears (unless you are following a trusted recipe) because they have too much sugar and can become moldy.
I also was surprised not to see very much sterilization of the jars in these recipes. It’s so easy to boil clean mason jars in a canning pot or just a large spaghetti pot – I did mine for about 10 minutes to kill any other bacteria before getting started with the kraut. It’s an extra step, but no big deal – so why not? We used recycled glass mason jars from that pasta sauce we’re always using!
We prepared 3 recipes of sauerkraut – here are the ingredients.
Today’s recipe: Cabbage Sauerkraut with Turmeric and Garlic
Cabbage Garlic Turmeric Sauerkraut Ingredients:
1/4 cabbage – shredded or finely grated
1 clove thinly sliced garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp minced fresh turmeric
1/2 tbsp non-iodized salt (we used kosher salt, but you can use non-iodized sea salt if you like)
CABBAGE GARLIC TURMERIC SAUERKRAUT PREPARATION:
Shred cabbage. You can either thinly slice with a knife, shred in your food processor, shred with a mandolin or with a cheese grater. We tried thinly slicing and shredding through a cheese grater. Both methods worked, but the more finely chopped (cheese grater) cabbage released more liquid and had a nicer texture once fermented! The recipe called for 1/4 cabbage – we actually used 1 1/2 cabbages (so we multiplied everything times 6 and came away with 3 large jars).
Finely slice the garlic, and mince the turmeric.
Add ground black pepper.
Add turmeric and garlic.
Add the salt. Massage the cabbage vigorously with your hands (or if you prefer assorted squishing tools) for about 5 minutes until it releases some juices. Set it aside for a 1/2 hour. The cabbage releases liquid with the addition of the salt and with the “squeezing” action. After 1/2 hour, work the cabbage mixture again. Ladle the mixture into clean (sterilized) jars. Pack it down – (we used a rounded ice cream scoop to pack down) – so that the cabbage mixture is at the bottom with the liquid rising to cover the surface of the cabbage.
We used 3 sterilized jars for 1 1/2 cabbages (6 times recipe) filled to about 2/3 full. It’s important to have all of the cabbage below the liquid.
In the event that your cabbage is not releasing enough liquid, you can make a brine – mix 1 cup of water to 1/2 tsp non-iodized salt. If you are making a lot of sauerkraut like we were, just mix this up and have it nearby – just in case! Dissolve the salt by giving it a whisk. If the cabbage sits above the liquid – just pour a little brine over the top until the cabbage is submerged.
The next step is to make sure the mixture is not exposed to air while it is fermenting. We washed Ziploc sandwich bags and filled to about 2 fingers in depth with tap water. We then gently squeezed the water filled bags into the top of the jar without spilling the water into the jar. The water in the bag, once in the jar spreads over the surface of the cabbage. Then we pulled back the opening of the bag and lightly screwed on a jar lid. This seals the cabbage under the baggie from the air!
We used the appropriate jar lids, and for the two piece jar lids – you don’t need the centre lid piece because of the water filled bag!
Before you set the jars aside – place them on a tray or plate with a bit of a lip to it – when the fermenting occurs, some of the liquid may bubble over the edge of the jar – you don’t want to ruin your tabletop! Don’t worry about the spillage – just clean up and rearrange the bags and lids.
Place the sauerkraut jars in a cool dark location for a minimum of 7 days. Sample for texture and flavour. If you feel that they are ready, set aside the water bags, seal the jar lids and refrigerate. If you feel that they could ferment for a little longer, refit the water bags and lids and set aside for a few more days. After two weeks, (the jars had been covered by a cloth to keep sunlight out) – we felt the sauerkraut was just right – so we removed the bags, screwed on the lids and put in the refrigerator.
Enjoy a little bit of sauerkraut every day – on sandwiches, hot dogs or as a side.