Fermented Foods: Max’s Sauerkraut

Cabbage is your friend.

Cabbage is your friend.

Full of natural probiotics which boost the good bacteria in the gut and therefore boost immunity and overall health, fermented foods were what we used to do naturally when we didn’t have great refrigeration and wanted to store our harvests for longer.

So much better if you make it yourself so there are no ‘added ingredients’ nasties like sugar. From water kefir, kombucha, kimchee and Sauerkraut, to creating vegan ‘cheese’ out of cashews, making tempeh or using miso, there are fermented foods available for all levels of effort, skill and ingredients/kitchen equipment to hand.  I love drinking water kefir but they need changing every couple of days and when I’m working a lot I feel like a really bad Kefir mother, neglecting my Kefir children. I don’t have access here in Central America to a Kombucha ‘Scobie’ so I’m going old school and fermenting my cabbage with Max’s (of Jocotel, Tzunana) Sauerkraut recipe!

Max's Sauerkraut recipe

(Makes 2 400/500g jars)

Ingredients:

1 whole green cabbage, finely sliced

1/2 carrot, grated

2 garlic cloves

A pinch of chilli powder

1 tablespoon of salt

1/2 chopped Jalapeno (I didn’t have any fresh ones so used a few slices that I had

Instructions:

There is no additional liquid added to the cabbage, the liquid in the jar comes entirely from the cabbage’s own juices. Use whatever you have to hand to crush the finely sliced cabbage so it breaks down and get’s deliciously juicy.  I didn’t have a pestle so I used a saucepan and the plunger from the vegetable juicer.

Crush the cabbage down to release the juices.

Crush the cabbage down to release the juices.

This is probably the only slightly difficult part of the process, using a little bit of brute force to crush the cabbage and then use pressing actions to help encourage the juice out.

Spoon into a jar, planning to fill no more than 70-80% of the way up, leaving space for the fermentation to continue once you put the lid on. Add the grated carrot, garlic, Jalapeno/chopped chilli, salt and chilli powder or anything else you want to flavour it with.

Leave 20 - 30% of the jar empty for full fermenting opportunity!

Leave 20 – 30% of the jar empty for full fermenting opportunity!

Mix it all up and push it down so it’s under the juices, cover with a thick piece of cabbage leaf, weight down with a big chunk of carrot, and cover with a cheesecloth/nutmilk bag/paper towel and rubberband.  Leave to ferment open to the elements for 6 days and then eat as often as required!  Always take care to keep it covered in it’s own juices to prevent the demon’s of mould getting into it and leave open to the air to keep the fermentation process running.

Sauerkraut

Right, second batch coming up!

Is there a photographer in the house?  Photo credit, with thanks to Matt Wheeler, paid in full with cabbage.

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