Growing up in a house of Polish descent, sauerkraut, or ‘kraut as its more affectionally termed, was something that featured in many a meal time. With the rise of popularity in fermented foods in more recent years ‘kraut has gained somewhat of a meteoric cult or you could say ‘cultured’ following. Sauerkraut is based on fermented cabbage that during the culturing process generates bacteria that are believed to be good for our gut health. Making it is also super easy and requires minimal equipment. It’s just the time waiting for the bacteria to do their stuff that calls for a little patience but it is well worth the wait. Great in a cheese sandwich, as a side to poached eggs or mixed through a salad or veggies, ‘kraut can elevate a really simple dish and give it that distinct umami flavour.
Makes around 400g (one large jar)
1 medium white cabbage
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Firstly, wash your hands thoroughly and make sure you are using a sterilised bowl and jar to store the sauerkraut before you begin.
Tear away the outer leaves of the cabbage and put to one side as you will use them later. Then shred the cabbage into thin strips either with a very sharp knife or use a mandolin. Place in a large glass bowl. Add the salt and massage to help release liquid from the cabbage. I advise doing this in rounds of 5 mins and leaving for 5 mins and then repeating for around 20-30 mins. Once you get a decent pool of the liquid released from the cabbage in the bottom of the bowl you can stop. Add the caraway and fennel seeds and mix through.
Place the cabbage in the jar and pack down as much as possible being quite firm with this. Top with the liquid from the bowl so that it completely covers the cabbage. If there is not enough liquid then mix some filtered (must be filtered!) water with a little salt and add.
Using the outer cabbage leaves fold together to use on top of the shredded cabbage mix to add extra pressure and then on top of that either add a paper weight or even a stone to weigh down further. This will help with the fermentation process.
Next cover the jar with either a loose lid or a muslin cloth and rubber band. Leave somewhere at room temperature for anywhere from 3-7 days but do ‘burp’ to release the gas every day if you are using a lid. Taste from 3 days to see if that’s your desired flavour. The longer you leave it the more potent this will be so that’s entirely a personal thing. When you do find your preference then place the ‘kraut in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks if you don’t eat it all before!