Recently I was researching gut health and how to improve it. On my travels around the internet, I uncovered some delicious recipes for making sauerkraut, pickles and fermented veggies. Most looked super easy and while some were made with makeshift pickling systems such as large jars covered with a cabbage leaf or such like many used a purpose-made pickling crock.
Not one to undertake anything half-heartedly and with a mash-up of equipment, I, of course, bought one and so began my journey into improving our gut health with our own homemade pickles.
This easy sauerkraut recipe is a great way to add probiotics into your diet and is super simple.
At the risk of repeating myself, our gut has 3 times as many neurons as our brain and the two are connected. So it stands to reason that we should look after it, right?
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi etc are exceptional at helping to keep our gut healthy and have the added extra of being delicious. Fermenting is easy, cheap and only limited by your imagination.
Try to eat a tablespoon or two at every meal and your gut will say thank you in the form of better overall health.
I use this crock which a bought here. I love anything that is easy convenient and this is definitely that, so if you can I would urge you to splash out and get something similar.
Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process and the presence of oxygen can affect it greatly.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to keep the oxygen out as much as possible. As the timing varies so much you need to know when it is ready. I suggest you taste often until you get the feel for how long you need to leave your different ferments.
In cooler climates, the ferment can take up to 6 months.
Mine took less than two weeks which seems crazy but it is one of the pitfalls of living in a subtropical climate.
If you live in a hot climate like me fermenting can be little trickier.
When I put this sauerkraut down we had a few very hot days. I tested after one week and it wasn’t ready. I tested again after 2 weeks and it was overdone and too tart. So I am guessing around 10 days would be the optimum in high temps. I didn’t waste the sauerkraut, I rinsed half of it and mixed it together with the other half and it tastes great. Of course, we will not have the full benefit of all those healthy microbes.
It is currently 33 degrees here and I am loving it so it is difficult to imagine living in a climate where your ferment can take any more than a month.
Easy Sauerkraut Recipe Made In A Hot Climate
- 1 large Purple Cabbage
- 1 tbsp Salt per kg of cabbage. Use a good salt (I used Maldon)
Possible other ingredients:
carrots, celeriac, green tomatoes, onions, capsicum, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, seeds, fennel seeds.
- 4 green peppercorns
- tsp of fennel seeds
- Finely slice the cabbage in a food processor
- Put all the cabbage into a large non-reactive bowl and massage the salt and spices through well
- Transfer to your sterilised crock or fermenting container, tamping down as you go
- Give the cabbage a good mash with a potato masher or something similar. There should be 4-5cms of liquid on top of the cabbage (see notes)
- Put your weights on top of the cabbage (see notes)
- Fill your moat with water (a feature of this crock which creates an airlock)
- Leave at room temp approx 18° for up to 8 weeks (see notes)
- When ready (you will know by taste) you can put it in jars and keep in the fridge where it will keep for up to a year
Let’s talk fermenting containers
As mentioned I use a fermenting crock which takes all the messing around out of the equation. I have seen a plain jar used successfully. A food grade bucket would be ideal and your local deli might give you one for nothing but remember plastics could leach chemicals.
If you do not have enough liquid on top of the cabbage it may mean you haven’t massaged the salt in long enough. Let it sit for a few minutes and give it another massage. I have seen recipes when a salt brine (tbsp salt to a litre of water) has been added. I added a cup of plain water and had no adverse effects.
If you are using a different container make sure the cabbage is fully submerged under the liquid. You can do this in varying ways one which is to place a large zip-lock bag of water (I would use a double layer to prevent accidents) on top of the cabbage. A weighted jar on a plate is another method.
My next ferment will be kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made from Napa cabbage and flavoured with garlic, ginger and chilli.
Do you ferment vegetables, what is your secret recipe?