I was recently asked to do a guest blog for the lovely folks over at Left Field Kombucha the piece was a brief introduction about fermented foods and drinks. Fermented foods and drinks are featuring a lot across the media and social media at the moment and more fermented products are becoming available in larger supermarkets.
There are a number of benefits for consuming fermented foods and drinks; they provide support for a healthy liver and research has shown that they may be beneficial for certain skin ailments such as eczema. However, I think the number one health benefit we associate with fermented foods and drinks is that they contain probiotics (which means ‘for life’) these are the beneficial bacteria which are needed for optimum gut health and supporting a healthy digestive system. As approximately 70%-80% of our immune system is based in the gut, having a healthy balance of good bacteria helps support our immune system and could help us ward off the bug that is going around.
Sauerkraut is a lovely addition to a salad but I also enjoy it in sandwiches, with scrambled eggs or as a side to a hearty stew or casserole. However, less is more especially if you are new to fermented foods and drinks. Start with just a small amount each day and slowly increase the amount.
I’ve included ginger and fennel seeds in this recipe both of which are great for digestion too but you can make it without either and use carraway seeds instead as they are what is traditionally used in sauerkraut.
-1 medium white or red cabbage
-2 Tbsp. finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
-2 tsp. fennel seeds
-1 Tbsp. salt
How To Make
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside. Remove the tough core from the cabbage.
Finely slice/shred the cabbage and put in a large glass bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients.
With your hands or the base of a wooden rolling pin, firmly massage the cabbage and all the ingredients together until the cabbage starts to release its juices. This can take up to 10 minutes.
Once the mixture has reduced in size and the cabbage juices have started to be released, start putting the mixture into a wide mouthed sterile glass jar. Firmly pack the mixture down to get rid of any air bubbles. I use the base of my wooden rolling pin to press the mixture firmly into the jar – you want the liquid to cover the contents.
Once the mixture is packed in the jar, take a reserved cabbage leaf and pack this on top of the mixture, as you push down the liquid will come up over the cabbage leaf. Depending on the size of the neck of your jar you may need a couple of the reserved cabbage leaves.
Secure the lid firmly onto the jar and store in a warm dark place for 3-4 days. Open the lid slightly each day to ‘burp’ the sauerkraut, it’s best to have the jar on a plate to catch any juices that may escape, then, secure the lid again. The longer you leave it the more sour it will become. Have a taste test and you can judge when it is ready for your taste. Do not double dip though! As this will contaminate the sauerkraut, always use a clean fork.
Once the sauerkraut is ready, store in the refrigerator.