Identified as a staple dish in German since 1960 and native to the Chinese, Sauerkraut is an invention that has graced multiple tables for centuries. This fermented cabbage dish is widely recognised for its versatility, health properties and the fact that you can make it without needing much ingredients nor equipment.
- Salt to taste
- Mason jar or crock to store
- Shred the cabbage.
- Put the shredded cabbage in a container, or bowl.
- With clean hands add salt and massage the salt into the cabbage. At first, the added salt might not seem to be enough but slowly the cabbage will start to become watery and limp. This process takes 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some on top of the cabbage before packing it into a jar.
- Pack the cabbage into a crock (for large quantities) or a mason jar (for small quantities). At the same time tamp down the cabbage using your fist to release any excess water. Pour the liquid released then seal tightly the crock or mason jar using a lid or clean cloth respectively. Use rubber bands or twine to secure the cloth.
A few pointers to note;
- The cabbage should remain submerged in the liquid during fermentation.
- Cabbage produces a lot of water, which makes those near the surface float. Hence to make tasty sauerkraut, tamp down the floating cabbage or place a large leaf of cabbage on the surface of the shredded cabbage to keep everything submerged in the liquid.
- Keep the jar covered at all times to prevent airflow and contaminants from entering the dish. You can use a clean cloth or cheesecloth for this.
- The longer the sauerkraut is fermented the tastier it gets. Therefore, depending on the amount of sauerkraut you make give it ample time for it to ferment. You may transfer it in a fridge once you deem the taste is as preferred.
- If you get a very active fermentation, the contents might bubble up or fail to fit the container. Thus, it is always advisable to use a slightly larger container for packing the cabbage.
- Since there’s no maximum or minimum time this dish is fermented for, it is necessary for you to keep tasting the sauerkraut from time to time. Once the desired taste is achieved, the sauerkraut can be stored in cellar temperatures or in a refrigerator. The fermentation period will also depend on the amount of sauerkraut you’re making. For instance, smaller batches can take up to 3 days to ferment while sauerkraut fermented in crocks can take more.
- You know you’re doing it right when you see bubbles or white scum on the surface of the sauerkraut. This scum can be skimmed off before storing the sauerkraut in the fridge. If mould forms on the surface, it indicates the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or the room temperatures are high.
- Fill your sauerkraut jar to the brim to get the best results.
- Store it in a fridge to preserve.
Sauerkrat is a great condiment for a variety of dishes. It can be used as a topping for meat or layered in a sandwich or hotdog. Due to its crunchiness, delightfully sour and great taste it can also be used as a side dish as done mostly in Asian cuisines.
Benefits of sauerkraut
- As it is made through a process known as Lacto-fermentation, Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics that are found in other cultured foods like yoghurt or sour milk. The probiotics have a tremendous influence on the immune system, enabling it to fight against respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal diseases/disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, gas and bloating.
- Sauerkraut is a low-calorie food which makes it a great choice to include in your diet.
- This fermented cabbage dish is packed with multiple nutrients such as vitamin K, Vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, riboflavin and vitamin C, all which are essential for normal body functioning.
- It contains minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium and iron, which help the body to stay healthy.
- A study done by the University of Mexico reported that eating sauerkraut could lower the risk of getting breast cancer by 74%.
Hence, to reap the benefits of this dish, consider including this sauerkraut in your diet.