Whaaat? Well what else would you do with a cabbage glut? Who’s got a cabbage glut you say? Well, not us exactly, but I do find us with slightly more cabbage than we can comfortably get through. So with the latest haul from the allotment (and by haul I mean 2 cabbages) I thought I’d give sauerkraut a go! I’ve read a lot recently about the health benefits of fermented foods. They’re rich in live healthy bacteria and we can cultivate them ourselves for free! So before you do as I did and think ‘it’s not for me’… think twice when you next look at a cabbage in your fridge… or on the supermarket shelf for that matter… They’re in season right now, making it easier to pick up cheap, organic, local products at their nutritional best! This article in the Guardian says pretty much everything I want to say… so if you’re not convinced yet, but still slightly intrigued read more here… particularly the heading on ‘why sauerkraut is good for me’ which names its cancer-fighting properties along with the ‘good bacteria’ levels, which are higher than in live yoghurt and which aids digestion and keeps the immune system healthy. Perfect this time of year!
1 1/2 cabbage heads (I had 1/2 red cabbage and 1 pointed cabbage)
1 1/2 tbsp sea-salt
1. Remove the limp outer leaves of the cabbage, but save 1. Cut your cabbage in to quarters and remove the thick stalk. Cut each quarter in to half (lengthways).
2. Finely cut each section crossways to create short ribbons (this could be done in the food processor too, in the same way you’d do coleslaw).
3. Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl and add salt. Rub the salt in to the cabbage, turn & press down hard. The point here is to extract as much liquid from the cabbage as possible. This is the liquid that the cabbage will ferment in. It’ll take a good 10 mins of pressing, squeezing & turning.
4. Push down hard on the cabbage, if the liquid rises to just about the top of the cabbage, you’re ready.
5. Transfer the mixture to a large kilner jar or jug (1.5l). Lay a whole cabbage leaf on top of the shredded cabbage.
6. You’ll need to weigh down the cabbage so it’s immersed in the liquid. I used a smaller jar full of baking beans, but as long as it’s weighed down and more or less covered it’ll work.
7. Place it somewhere cool (ish), a windowsill is fine, and cover the jar or jug with a cloth.
8. I left mine for 6 days, occasionally pushing down the cabbage. The liquid will begin to bubble as it ferments and you’ll begin to smell that fermented smell. You can leave it longer, but test it after 5 days and see if you like the flavour?
9. Transfer to a 1 ltr jar and store in the fridge.
Add sauerkraut to salads and serve with meat…