Since making my own kombucha, I’ve become a little obsessed with the world of fermentation. Next on my fermentation bucket list is homemade sauerkraut.
What is sauerkraut
If you’ve never tried it, don’t let the name put you off. It features the almighty cabbage as it’s main ingredient, with the added bonus of other delicious vegetables of your choosing. You let it brew away in it’s own juices to make a delicious toast topper or salad addition. This all occurs through the magical process of fermentation.
Sauerkraut fermentation is pretty big in the zero waste world, as it’s longevity in the cupboard and plastic free assembly is ideal for a zero waste kitchen. If you aren’t keen on making your own, head to your local food store as they usually have sauerkraut in stock. There’s plenty of different flavour combinations to try, and it usually come in glass jars for re-use.
Getting the ingredients
There’s nothing better than fresh veggies. I love the taste of the veggies from the farmers market or straight from my mums garden, they usually have a taste unlike those from the supermarket. Upon doing some research, I found that 100% of people on the internet believe in using farmer fresh veggies for homemade sauerkraut. So off to the Cygnet market we went.
1 cabbage head (equal to around 1kg)
1-2 extra cabbage leafs for a ‘lid’
1-2 tbsp of salt (any salt will do)
Smaller jar/s for storage
Decent forearm/wrist strength
Making the sauerkraut
I based my recipe of the Zero Waste Chef’s original sauerkraut. The basic process of sauerkraut making is the same across all recipes, however I used veggies that are in season in Tassie for this batch.
The finer you chop the cabbage, the easier this will be. I stupidly didn’t take a photo of my chopped cabbage, but if you have some kind of device that chops things finely, that will be your best friend. Because we’re a simple household, I just used a knife that worked well to. I then peeled two of my baby carrots and chopped up one green chilli, and put it all into a big bowl.
The salt is probably the most important ingredient in homemade sauerkraut making. By adding salt, it draws out the water from the veggies and creates the liquid in which the sauerkraut will ferment in. Add the salt to the veggies and mix it through thoroughly.
The water-drawing-out process doesn’t just happen on it’s own, it requires a decent squeeze session. So spend the next half an hour or so, literally pushing down the veggies and squeezing them tight until water starts to drip. This process was super frustrating for me because I felt like I wasn’t getting any water. It also took a toll on my previously injured back & shoulder. So if this happens, get a strong person to help and a touch more salt. The water will flow eventually.
The extra squeeze
I felt like I needed a little extra push, so I transferred my sauerkraut from my bowl to a big jar, and put in a big bottle of water to push it all down to create more juicy goodness. Leave it for an hour or so and more water will (hopefully) start to appear.
You can ferment your sauerkraut in whatever vessel you like, even the bowl you made it in. I bottled mine into three jars so I could give one to my parents. The aim of the fermentation process is to make sure all of the vegetables are submerged in this veggie juice you’ve squeezed out. It’s also super important to pack the veggies in nice and tight by pushing them all the way to the bottom of whatever jar you plan to ferment it in. With this in mind, pop a piece of the spare cabbage leaf on top to create a ‘weight’, to keep all the veggies submerged. Seal the lids of your jars tight and you’re done!
Keep your sauerkraut in a cool, dark spot for a few days and then give it a taste. I started noticing a few bubbles appearing, which is a good sign that the fermentation process is going nicely. Between days 3-4 this batch went from smelling like cabbage water, to a beautiful chilli scented, sour kind of smell. Give it a taste! If you like it, then transfer to the fridge. I have found that 3 weeks has been my sweet spot for fermenting with this particular batch. Move it to the fridge and it will store for months.
This sauerkraut combination tastes absolutely delicious with avocado on toast, with a couple slices of radish. You could also use it to spice up a boring flavoured salad. Even more, the benefits of fermentation are wonderful for your tummy. I find that I’m less bloated and less groggy when I eat fermented foods. This stuff is a win-win!
For the Zero Waste Chef sauerkraut recipe, head to https://zerowastechef.com/2014/03/29/sauerkraut/
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