Lacto fermented vegetables (anaerobic fermentation) such as this delicious sauerkraut will keep your resident gut buddies, otherwise known as your gut microbiota, or intestinal flora thriving, fed and happy. Absolutely teaming with LIVE probiotics (in particular, lactobacillus microbe) and enzymes, these are essential for good gut bacteria proliferation and to activate enzymes in your colon in order to aid digestion. These veggies contain far more probiotics than a pill both in quantity and variety. Lactic acid benefits include: Stabilises blood sugar (great for diabetics), corrects the Ph of the colon and the body, increases digestion, supports flora, immune support (lactic acid makes the good bacteria thrive and starves off the bad), supports leaky gut, increases metabolism (poor digestion prevents weight loss) and decreases the bad bacteria, yeast and mould. Also, lacto-fermented vegetables increase your mood and decreases anxiety and depression, as serotonin is made in the gut. Clinical studies and trials show that the gut and our brain are inextricably linked, which is a very exciting and evolving field.
From a culinary standpoint, these are super easy and cheap to make and you can create your own personal favourite flavours. With just two ingredients and fermentation time it is actually quite amazing that we can the ultimate food for our gut buddies to thrive on!! Once you make one of my lacto-fermented vegetable recipes (this sauerkraut or my kimchi) you will see how easy it is and wonder why you haven’t before! Not only that, but your resident good gut bacteria will thank you!
- 2kg Chopped/ shredded cabbage
- 50g 3 Tbsps Unrefined Salt
Required: 1 x sterile glass jar that holds 4½ Cups liquid (a little more than a quart size jar)
1 cabbage leaf (the seal) cut to size to fit into the widest part of the mouth of your jar.
- In a large bowl, combine both cabbage and salt and toss well using clean hands to ensure cabbage is coated with salt.
- Leave the cabbage salt mixture in the bowl to sit for 3 – 5 hours to allow to wilt down by the process of ‘osmosis.’ This is an often missed step in making sauerkraut and if it is skipped your 2kg of cabbage will not all fit into your glass jar.
- Using your hands, take a handful of cabbage and squeeze out the excess liquid then pack firmly down into the bottom of your sterile glass jar using the back of your hand. Continue this process packing down the cabbage tightly as you go. Leave a couple of inches from the top of the widest part of your jar. Do not pack cabbage to the top, as each day the lactic acid will bubble and froth and spill over.
- Place your cabbage leaf ‘seal’ on the top and using the back of your hand, pack cabbage in tight so that the liquid covers the cabbage (anaerobic fermentation means no oxygen.)
- You need to put a weight on top to ensure all of your cabbage will remain under water (this is crucial to prevent mould.) I recommend simply finding a smaller glass jar with a lid that fits inside and filling it with water to use as a weight.
- To prevent fruit flies and bugs, you will need a netting over the top of your jar and weight, such as a nut milk bag, or a breathable material. Place everything on a plate to catch the lactic acid that may bubble up (and bubble out), as the bacteria eat through the sugar whilst creating LIVE probiotics for your gut health!
- Place your ferment in the warmest part of your home (often the kitchen) and allow to ferment for minimum 6 days to 10 days, depending on your humidity and climate. The warmer the climate; the closer to the 6 days it will be ready, consequently the colder your climate the longer it will take.
- Check your ferment each day to see if the plate needs replacing from an overflow of the lacto-fermented liquid. This is a great sign that your ferment is doing its job and the good bacteria such as the lactobacillus microbe is thriving! You can also taste your ferment to ascertain how you like it – stronger, or not? 6 days is usually the minimum, but if you prefer it stronger, by all means go another day or two!
- Once you are happy with the result, place a lid on the jar and put it into the refrigerator. This will not only slow down the fermentation process it allows you to keep your sauerkraut for months and it keeps it deliciously crunchy too!
Note: I have given you the basics, however you can add other flavourings to your sauerkraut such as dried dill, caraway seeds, fennel, ginger turmeric, red pepper flakes, lemon peel and garlic – the sky is no limit! Make it your own and have fun! 🙂
Storage: Sauerkraut stores for months in the fridge in an airtight sealed container.