I’ve read so much recently about the correlation between gut health and overall wellbeing, so I’ve been trying to incorporate more probiotic goodness into my diet.
There are so many more sources of probiotics than I realized, from olives in brine, to Kombucha tea, to blue cheese.
It’s been interesting to learn how different cultures embrace different sources of probiotics as staples in the average diet. For example, kimchi is the most popular source of probiotics in Korea, yogurt in France, miso soup in Japan, and sauerkraut in Germany. I really enjoy eating all of these foods but, other than yogurt, they can be difficult to find in supermarkets in the French countryside.
After a few business trips to Berlin recently, I’ve developed a real fondness for sauerkraut, so I’ve been experimenting with making my own at home. Turns out, making sauerkraut is incredibly easy, and in its simplest form it requires only two ingredients; cabbage and salt. In this recipe I’ve also included carrot, because I like the added sweetness. If you like spicy food, this recipe also tastes great with the addition of a little hot chili.
- 28 oz (800 grams) grated cabbage and grated carrot altogether - I used around ⅔ cabbage and ⅓ carrot
- 1 tablespoon iodine-free salt
- Hot chili to taste (optional)
- It’s important to make sure that all of the equipment you are using is really clean whenever you’re fermenting food, otherwise you risk bacteria growing and spoiling your efforts.
- Remove the exterior leaves of the cabbage and set aside a couple of leaves to use later.
- Finely grate the cabbage and set it aside.
- Wash and peel the carrots, then finely grate and set aside. NOTE: If you prefer a chunkier sauerkraut, you can grate your cabbage and carrots more thickly. However, the fermentation process will take longer.
- Set the bowl on your kitchen scales and add a mixture of grated cabbage and carrot until the weight reads 28 oz. The proportion of cabbage to carrot isn’t too important, I used a ratio of around ⅔ cabbage and ⅓ carrot.
- If you’re adding hot chili, finely chop it, and remove any seeds if you’re worried about too much heat. Then add it to the cabbage and carrot mixture now.
- Now add the salt.
- The next step involves massaging the cabbage and carrot mixture with your hands until enough water is excreted from the vegetables to create a brine. The vegetables I used were fresh and juicy, so I only needed to massage them for 5-10 minutes. If the vegetables you are working with are slow to release water, then you may need to massage them for 10-15 minutes.
- Pack the cabbage/carrot mixture into the sterile jar, pushing the vegetable matter down so it is entirely covered by the brine.
- Now you need to create a cover over the vegetables to ensure they remain submerged in the brine. Cut the reserved cabbage leaves so that they are the same size as the mouth of the jar, and place them on top of the surface of the packed down vegetables.
- Now weigh this ‘cabbage cover’ down with weights (see photo above).
- Put the lid on the jars loosely, don’t screw them on tightly. You want to allow any gases from the fermentation process to escape.
- Now place the jar in a dark place at room temperature and allow it to ferment for a minimum of 5 days, or for 2-3 weeks for maximum flavor.
- Over time the sauerkraut will become more sour. Once you’re satisfied with the taste, transfer to the fridge and keep for up to 6 months.