Welcome to your fermentation guide for the month! We’ll be giving you inspiration and information to kick start your health with fermented foods.
What’s the deal with fermentation?
Fermentation has preserved food in cultures for centuries. It is a way of life that we have strayed from because of modern food technology. Fermented foods have naturally occurring probiotics which support gut health. Our intestines have “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good” bacteria helps digest food and absorb nutrients. Probiotics help the “good” bacteria do their job. So, the more fermented foods you eat, the better your gut health.
How To Make Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is made from shredded cabbage and is usually found in German and Eastern European cuisines today. It’s simple to make and a great beginner fermenter project.
- Start with fresh cabbage. The fresher the cabbage, the more water it has, and the better the brine will be. Slice the cabbage by hand or in a food processor. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure the pieces are about the same size. Add to a large plastic or glass bowl.
- Add salt. This will draw out the moisture from the cabbage to make the brine. A good rule of thumb is two teaspoons per pound of cabbage. Massage the cabbage with clean hands after adding salt to accelerate the process. (Don’t use iodized salt. It inhibits the beneficial bacterial growth. Use sea salt, real salt, or kosher salt instead.) Let the cabbage sit for an hour after massaging.
- After sitting, your cabbage should have a fair amount of brine in the bowl. Transfer to glass jars or a ceramic crock. Do not use a metal container since salt can react with metal. As you add the cabbage to your container, pack it down with your hand to extract more water. The brine should cover the cabbage at all times. (If you don’t have enough brine, dissolve some salt in water and top off your containers.)
- If your cabbage isn’t staying under the brine, you can add a fermenting weight if you have one, or sit a glass of water in your jar. Cover your container with a cloth to keep anything out, and let it ferment for at least 24 hours and taste it. You can ferment longer if you like it more tangy.
- When you have reached your preferred taste, close the container, and move it to the refrigerator. As long as the cabbage stays below the brine, it will keep for months.
Ways To Use Sauerkraut
You can always make a classic reuben sandwich, but there are plenty of delicious ways to use your sauerkraut.
- Add it to soups. It tastes great with carrots, peas, and onions.
- Sauerkraut is delicious on avocado toast.
- Of course, it always goes with sausage or pork.
Once you get the hang of it, you can start experimenting. use red cabbage instead of green for a colorful twist. Add other veggies like beets or carrots. Get creative! Post your sauerkraut pictures on Facebook or Instagram with #fermentationfeb and tag us, @weeklyfig. We love seeing what you make!
Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods.