Have you heard that fermented foods are rich in enzymes and probiotics that have tons of health benefits but you’re not sure what exactly to reach for? Raw fermented cabbage — a.k.a. sauerkraut — is a fantastic and delicious source of these nutrients and it couldn’t be easier to make. Plus cabbage is quite inexpensive and goes a long way. Fermented cabbage is essentially pickled cabbage. When raw vegetables like cabbage are salted, packed in jars and stored away for a few days, it creates an environment that helps lactobacilli (a natural healthy bacteria) and enzymes flourish. This bacteria helps balance intestinal flora, giving you a healthy digestive system, which in turn helps cleanse your body and boost your immune system. Another wonderful side affect is healthy, glowing skin. Who doesn’t want that?
Now, this isn’t the sad soggy stuff you may have scooped out of a can onto bratwurst at one point in your life. This recipe will give you a fresh pickled flavor with a nice tang and a little crunch. It’s delicious with almost anything. I love it as a complement to meat or eggs, or mixed into brown rice and veggie bowls. You can find raw sauerkraut in many grocery stores now, even some farmers markets — but as I said, it is so easy and inexpensive to make your own. Plus, you can add herbs and spices to your taste. To make this recipe, you need a mason jar, a piece of cheese cloth, and a rubber band.
Homemade Raw Sauerkraut
- 1 head of green cabbage
- caraway seeds (optional)
- Clean the outside of the cabbage and peel away any wilted leaves. Reserve one big leaf for later in the process.
- Cut the cabbage in half and slice into thin ribbons.
- Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup sliced cabbage, toss together, and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Massage the cabbage with your hands, squeezing well so that liquid is being released. Continue to massage for about 10 minutes to release liquid from the cabbage, then add the caraway seeds if using.
- Pack cabbage tightly into the mason jar, using a wooden spoon to help, so that there as few air pockets as possible. Leave about a two inch space at the top of the jar and make sure that the cabbage is fully submerged in liquid. If you don’t have enough liquid, add some filtered water until cabbage is covered.
- Take the large cabbage leaf you reserved and press and tuck it on top of the packed cabbage to help keep it all submerged under liquid.
- Place the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and secure with a rubber band. This will let air in, but keep the cabbage protected.
- Store at room temperature for 5 days minimum, and as much as 8-9 days for a stronger flavor.
- Check daily to make sure the cabbage is still submerged in water. If not, add some water that has been boiled and cooled. Mold may develop on top, but that’s part of the natural fermentation process and is harmless — just scrape it off.
- Once finished, cap the mason jar with a lid or move to an alternate container and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy within a few weeks.
Are fermented foods part of your daily diet? Have you experienced positive effects from fermented foods?