We've been enjoying more fermented sauerkraut during the sugar detox. What's not to like about fermented veggies? They complement every meal, and because I filled a huge jar with kraut, there is enough to feed us for weeks, which means less pressure on me to come up with a new side dish everyday. You could say that we are boring by eating the same thing, but kraut, in many traditional cuisines, is a routine element. Germans consume it with gusto and Koreans are so big on kimchi that they eat it with every meal. Eastern European's happen to love their fermented veggies, too. Kraut was one of the first foods we grabbed when we were shopping for breakfast options in Slovenia. It also doesn't hurt that the health-promoting properties of fermented veggies stimulate stomach acid production, which aids in better digestion of foods, especially meats. And you know how much we love grass-fed meat around here. :)
The sauerkraut recipe I usually prepare is my grandmother's version. Her family grew up making big wooden barrels of this stuff and eating it all through the Russian winter. But now she lives on her own and in a much warmer climate, with access to just about anything she wants. Instead of giving up on this ancient tradition, she continues it to this day by using a simplified method. These are pics of her demonstrating the process.
Grandma's 3-day Kraut ferment
- wide-mouth mason or clip-top glass jar (64 -oz)
- plate that fits inside jar or two plastic forks (food grade and compostable, anti-plastic purists stay calm)
- paper towel or cheesecloth
- 2 large head of green cabbage
- 4 carrots
- Real Salt or another unrefined sea salt of your choice.
- Slice cabbage into halves, cut out the hearts. Take one half and chop it into strips on a cutting board. Grate 2 carrots separately and add to the chopped cabbage. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt.
- Mix ingredients with your hands and squeeze to force the water out a bit. Transfer the mixture to a jar and tamp it down until juices release some more. I like to use a wood roller pin.
- Repeat 2 and 3 for the second half of the cabbage.
- Pack remaining content into the same jar and tamp it again. You want to fill about 90% of the jar, so cut up the second head of cabbage if needed.
- Cover kraut with a plate and a weight or like my grandmother has been doing for years: take 2 plastic forks, overlapping at the center to form an "x" - press them into the walls of the jar and top of kraut. This should keep kraut submerged under the brine.
This ferment also had red bell pepper added
- Cover the whole thing with paper towel or cloth to keep creatures out.
- Store the jar at room temperature. I prefer on the counter but out of the way.
- Everyday, for the duration of the ferment, open the cloth and release the bubble with a wooden skewer by pressing down in between the forks. Remember to cover again and set aside. Repeat for 3 days.
- Transfer to the fridge and enjoy. Because my family likes a crunchy and slightly sour kraut, we ferment for only 3 days. But if you are looking for a variation that is more sour and probably higher in probiotic content, check out Balanced Bites recipe.