Eat sauerkraut. Your gut needs it.

I’ll admit. I have never liked cabbage. Before this year I could count on one hand the number of times I have ever eaten cabbage. Actually I didn't even need hands to count it. It was zero. Since reading Kimberly Snyder’s the Beauty Detox I decided to give cabbage a second chance… I decided to give cabbage a first chance! This sauerkraut recipe is so special to Kim (we’re on a first name basis) she describes it as ‘sacred’. So I had to try. For my mate Kim

Sacred cabbage eh? What’s so special about it? For starters it actually tastes good. Cabbage. Tastes. Good. Promise! 

Skimming the Beauty Detox I recognised sauerkraut (as I knew it to be) and I knew exactly where to find it in the super market. I over enthusiastically marched to the supermarket to buy my first jar of sauerkraut! KIM! I am heeding your words sister! Let’s kraut! However, having not quite finished the page on sauerkraut (my enthusiasm can be stronger than my sense sometimes!) I found myself in the traditional sauerkraut/pickle isle at the local supermarket aka Helena’s second home! My first experience with sauerkraut was not exciting at all. All limpness and salt. You see. It was the kind of sauerkraut that was… I cant even say it without tearing up… pickled in vinegar!! This can’t be what Kim wanted for me? Why Kim?! WHY!?! I huffed straight back to the Beauty Detox to confront Kim. Oh. Lightbulb. Reading reveals information! Real fermented cabbage, real purposeful sauerkraut, the kind that actually helps your digestion and not hinders it, it fermented and refrigerated. Huh.

I re-assessed and like to goody-two-shoes I usually am, I was on the hunt for exactly what Kim described: live, bubbling, kissing sauerkraut - sweetheart of a sauerkraut. Nothing from the shelf! It had to be refrigerated (the first  sign of real sauerkraut!) And oh my goddess! It was…. bliss… live refrigerated sauerkraut is zesty and sour and teeming with good stuff for your body. Refreshing, filling and all mine. 

 Store bought limpy kraut
Delicious homemade kraut

If you want to get all sciency about it (and I do!! I dooo!!), sauerkraut is made through a process of ‘lacto-fermentation’, where the (good) bacteria converts the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut and is super good for you. Super. Good. For. You. And me. And Andy (my bedfellow). And you. Helena too.

Now that Kim and I are back on good terms I wanted to follow her doctrine more carefully, while I was well and truly in my obsessive phase. Upon realising that eating the quantity of this gorgeous digestive Kim emplored me to eat was unaffordable - a jar of this life enhancing simplicity goes for $14-$18 in Australia!! -  I decided to make it myself. Unlike Helena’s limp and salty efforts to make ‘The Life Changing Loaf of Bread’, I was loving this sauerkraut and needed to make it. Now!

When you make homemade sauerkraut you are basically making your own probiotics in a jar. Take that Yakult! I made you!! Fermented cabbage is so packed full of good bacteria that it promotes digestion and healthy gut life. And with a healthy gut, you poop more. In case you were wondering. And you should wonder! We wonder! Helena and I talk poop all the time!

Back to sauerkraut! Best of all its super cheap and super easy to make. Let’s talk cheap: all you need is a mason jar (really any jar you have!), a head of cabbage and some salt. Easy: all you need to do is chop up the cabbage, then pack it into the jar by smushing (a technical cooking term) each layer down with a rolling pin (or any blunt object) to ensure it’s really packed in tightly. Then make a brine by mixing some filtered water and some sea salt (roughly one tablespoon for a small – medium size jar). Done! You can make some fancy additions or swaps here. I use unpasteurised miso paste and the ginger. I find this gives the kraut a delicious flavour!

When you’re done smushing in the kraut, leave 1-2 inches of room at the top of the jar. Pour the brine over the mixture until it’s just covering the cabbage. Take the leftover outer green cabbage leaves, roll them up and pack them into the top of the jar. Do this so no air is left at the top of the jar which could lead to moulding. 

Then you simply seal the jar, place them in the cupboard and wait. I usually see my mixtures start to ferment within 2-3 days, the smaller the mixture the quicker it starts to ferment.  I get so excited when a new batch starts to ferment and you can see the little bubbles in the jar. After about 5-7 days I normally taste my kraut to see if it has that certain krauti-ess that I love!! When I’m satisfied with he flavour I move it to the fridge. For your first time making it, I would recommend you buy a ready made jar of sauerkraut from the fridge isle so you have a good idea as to what the crunch and flavour should be like. Try and emulate this and when your confidence and knowledge of kraut flavour increases you’ll know what you want and what satisfies you! This beauty will last you a couple of week - enjoy every bite!! I top any homemade meal with the kraut, or serve it as a side dish. 

And that’s it!

If you love your kraut half as much as I do it will become your new baby, and in some ways I treat it like one! I ‘burp’ by jars every few days, just by opening the jars slightly to release the gas build up. I’m always checking up on my kraut to see if it’s happily bubbling away. When it gets a little too excited and oozes a little juice at the top, don’t stress. I smile and pat my sweet jar knowing that ooze is a good sign. Ooze means my kraut-baby is growing and fermenting like it should. I lovingly place my jars in a plastic bowl to make oozing clean up easier. There there baby, ooze away.

Update! I have just found out that you can make sauerkraut with cabbage’s even less popular cousin, the Brussel sprout! Stay tuned for kraut part II where we’ll experiment with fermenting some Brussel sprouts!

Helena here! 

I looooooove me some sauerkraut!! Bred like a real Pole (on sausages, pierogi and sauerkraut) I am well seasoned  in the art of sauerkraut consumption. Poles make all kinds of things with sauerkraut and they pickle a lot of their own foods - cucumbers, carrots, cabbage etc. Its so delicious! Before vegan, bigos was my number one most loved dish! Ever. In the whole world. Bigos. It was lovingly cooked for ages, sauerkraut with onions, sausages, pork bits and tomatoes. My favourite version now is heavily ladened with mushrooms. My mum makes the quick version which is still so delicious! Basically fry up some mushrooms, onions and garlic. Add some sauerkraut, a bay leaf and pepper and you got yourself something worth fighting over! I’ll have to make some for you! 

Raw, bubbling, kissing and sweet hearted sauerkraut is actively better for you. I see that now! And bugger me it tastes good! Better in fact than the store-bought kind! Its a meal in a of itself!  I have made my own sauerkraut once before, but even a simple recipe like this made me nervous! I know nothing about fermentation Jon Snow! I didn't add any brine and I put the jar packed with smushed cabbage straight into the fridge. So. Nothing happened. And I tried it. I was just eating raw, brownish cabbage. And thats where my adventure into eating homemade kraut ended. But I have a personal teacher now (Jess) who’s been personally coached by Kim (not really, you too can get this ‘personal’ coaching from the Beauty Detox). And when all else fails, I’ll simply raid Jess’s cupboard and blame it on Andy. Yum!

Love Helena and Jess

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