As part of the Candida Cleanse challenge, you will need to make your own Sauerkraut or fermented vegetables. Want to join in? Sign up here.
If you are reading this and want to get started, here is a great opportunity to do so!
Here are the things that you will need:
- Approximately three or four 1 litre wide-mouth canning jars. You can usually find these at thrift stores, or packs of 12 at a grocery store.
- Sea salt (table salt has additives that mess everything up… so don’t go there!)
- 2 large cabbages (green, purple, whatever you fancy)
- Optional: carrots, dill, and caraway seeds, or any other veggies and spices you want to throw in there. Kraut can be creative!
- A large pot or bowl to mix it in. Do not use stainless steel.
- Some kind of weight (I personally used a boiled and well washed pebble or rock)
Step 1: Get your cabbages, remove the very outer leaf and throw it away. Then rinse your cabbage under some cool water, shake it out, and then take off 3 or 4 more of the large outer leafs and put them aside for later.
Step 2: Start chopping your cabbage. Because the lactobacillus bacteria needed for fermenting are found inside the leaves, you want to chop it as finely as possible in order to get the most surface area. Put your chopped cabbage in a large bowl or pot.
Step 3: Chop up anything else you want to put in the kraut. I grated 2 or 3 large carrots, and chopped up two bunches of fresh dill, and added a couple tablespoons of caraway seeds.
Step 4: Add your sea salt to the mix. Salt does two things; it draws the juice out of the cabbage, and it also inhibits unfriendly microbes from growing in your ferment. The rule is 3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of cabbage. So, maybe weigh your cabbage at the store before you buy it and find out exactly how much they weigh! I estimate that two large cabbages is approximately 5 or 6 pounds, so start with 3 tablespoons.
Taste a little bit of it to make sure that it’s a bit salty, but not … like… disgusting salty.
Step 5: Let the salt start drawing out the liquid in the cabbage by letting it sit on the bench in a warm place for about 1hr.
Step 6: This is the fun part! Wash your hands really well, and get down and dirty! Stick your hands in your huge pot of cabbage and squish and mash it to bits! The aim for this squishing and mashing stuff is to work the salt throughout and get the cabbage to release its magical juices. Keep doing it for 15 – 30 minutes, until there’s a decent amount of brine. You need to do this for a long time to ensure the cabbage releases it’s liquid. *This is a crucial part of making sauerkraut. If you don’t make enough liquid, then it is likely to cause mould.
Step 7: Wash your hands and kraut vessels really well by boiling them in hot water.
Step 8: Stuff your cabbage into the masonry jar, stopping a couple inches before the top of the jar. You really want to make sure you pack the cabbage as tightly as possible to get all air pockets out of it. The brine should rise well above the cabbage. If it isn’t, remove the cabbage and do step 6 again, until more liquid is released.
Step 9: Take the large cabbage leaves that you had put aside and fold them up and place them into the top of the jars, as a cover for the shredded kraut. You may need to break it apart to get it in there, just as long as it sort of covers everything.
Step 10: Wash your rock/pebble and place it on top of your folded up cabbage leaves. Now, seal the jar. The brine needs to cover the Sauerkraut!
The purpose of the weight is to make sure that the cabbage stays packed and is not exposed to the air. You see, the awesome lacto-fermentation process that is happening to transform your salty cabbage into probiotic magic takes place in an anaerobic environment—one without oxygen. Bad microbes and bacteria that will spoil your food can only grow in an aerobic environment—in other words, in the presence of oxygen.
You can see the liquid above the Sauerkraut in this picture.
So if your cabbage is weighted down and safely submerged under the brine, it’s safe and can’t go bad. This is why you also want to make sure you packed your cabbage in there really good to get rid of any air pockets in which bad microbes could grow.
Step 11: Put them in a dark place like a cupboard with a bowl underneath, incase any liquids squeeze out. As fermentation begins, a by-product is that the bacteria create carbon dioxide bubbles—help them release them by pushing down on the weight. There should be a protective layer of liquid to prevent any mould.
Step 12: After 3 or 4 days, start tasting the kraut. It should taste kind of alive and tangy—something more than just salty cabbage. The taste will continue to improve and get stronger as time goes on, but you can tell how you like it and when you think it’s done. Don’t forget that every time you take kraut out of the jar to pack your kraut back down to get any air bubbles out. Don’t use your fingers to taste. Use a wooden spoon to the the cabbage out.
When you have it tasting good, you can move it into the fridge to slow the fermentation way down. I moved mine in after 5 days, but fermentation is fairly dependent on the room temperature. It’s nice and pleasantly warm here, so it fermented fast. If your house is a bit colder, it might take longer. Probably a week to a week and a half. When you move it to the fridge, the brine will probably go way down, but you can top it up with a little salty water. It will keep in the fridge for at least a few months!
Step 13: Add a spoonful to your meal each evening. Hey, this stuff improves your sex life too!
Have you explored making your own Sauerkraut? Keen to try it? A little nervous? Just give it a crack! What is the worst that can happen?