The
Happiest,
Zappiest, Most
Probiotically Peppy
Sauerkraut
Ever

What You Need

Ingredients

Sea salt, whey, cabbage, carrots, radish, beets, apple, ginger, celery, onions, peppers, spices.

Equipment

Large mixing bowl, cutting board, large knife, grater, wooden pounder, glass or ceramic jars, a big clear workspace.

Time

2 to 3 hours once a month. And two to three days between making it and starting to eat it...






Preparing your Vegetables

(1 - 2 hours)

First, assemble all your ingredients. Quantities really don't matter, but here's a good place to start: 1 cabbage, 3-5 carrots, 1 big beet, 1 hunk ginger, 1-2 tablespoons of good sea salt. Other optional ingredients include: grape, horseradish or oak leaves for tannin.

Peel the outer leaves off the cabbage and set them aside to cover your kraut – unless you have access to a grape vine, horseradish plant or oak tree, in which case you'll use those leaves instead. The tannins in the grape leaves help maintain crunchiness and prevent mold, but are not essential.

Cut your cabbage in half and then slice it as thinly as you can. Consistency and evenness are nice, but more important is not including a slice of your finger. If you end up with some large chunks, don't stress about it, you'll have large chunks in your kraut - yum. As you're slicing, your cutting board will begin to overflow. Transfer the cut cabbage into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle it generously with coarse sea salt every so often. Keep slicing and layering cabbage and salt.       read more





Compressing and Storing

(up to an hour)

Now comes the fun part. Dig your hands into the bowl of veggies and start squeezing. You're literally trying to squeeze the cabbage juice out of the cabbage. Sound difficult? It isn't. Traditionally kraut was pounded with a wooden pounder, and I do that at the end, but I find the best way to start the juices flowing is with my hands.

Grab great big handfuls of cabbage and crush them with all your might. You'll begin to see juices appearing at the bottom of your salad bowl, and you'll notice your hands are wet. It's working. Through a combination of chemical (salt) and physical pressure (your hands) you're beginning to extract the cabbage's natural juices.

When you've thoroughly squished all your vegetables, transfer them into a fermenting jar, or jars. Glass is ideal, but pottery works well too. Don't use plastic or metal as both will leach toxins into your food. Using your hands and a wooden pounder or wooden spoon, press the vegetables down until everything is beneath the level of the liquid.

At this point add a little whey. Why whey? Whey is an inoculant. It's full of lactobacilli, microorganisms, which will begin predigesting your vegetables. Predigestion is, after all, what fermentation is. Your vegetables, especially if they haven't been grown with a lot of chemicals like pesticides, naturally contain lactobacilli from their environment – the soil they grew in, the air and water around them. Then, when you add a little whey, you jump start these organisms, getting them to reproduce faster and helping them flourish.       read more/watch video



Serving and Eating

After two or three days, lift the weight up, peel back the leaves, and taste the kraut underneath. If it's frothy on top, just scrape the frothiness off with a spoon - that's just over-excited critters making so much gas they're making an excess of bubbles. If the kraut is too salty, put it back and let it ferment for another day or too.

The more fermentation, the more sour and the less salty your kraut will become. If you don't have grape leaves the vegetables will also get slightly softer with age. If you prefer your kraut crispier a black tea bag will also add crunch-preserving tannins, but it's also fine without. I like both equally.

Once your kraut is delicious to your taste, either put it in the fridge or in a cold larder to slow any further fermentation. That way it'll easily keep for two or three weeks, but start eating it soon! Either as a regular, digestion-aiding garnish on all your meals (and sandwiches), or in large crunchy spoonfuls whenever you crave it. Your stomach will start feeling so much happier.