If you had asked me six months ago if I thought I would be fermenting my own sauerkraut, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now I find myself fermenting sauerkraut and loving it. It’s delicious. And fresh. And so so so different from the crap you buy in a jar at the grocery store. Imagine that! Fresh sauerkraut is crunchy, tangy, and not overly vinegary. And, most importantly, it’s easy. Oh, and it’s good for you. Like, really really really good for you. In case you haven’t caught my drift, here’s one more “really” to get my point across: REALLY.
And it tastes really good. As in my friends who were lamenting that they “hate sauerkraut” and “how could you make this” blah, blah, blah, LOVED it. In fact, they loved it so much, they might have eaten the rest of my lunch.
Now, if you’ve never had fresh fermented foods: be cautious. Too much could cause die-off and no one wants that. Seriously. It’s not fun. Die-off is caused when the bacteria and yeast in your gut die off and start releasing their toxins into your system. The result: what looks like, acts like and feels like the flu. But really isn’t the flu. Try telling that to your body. Which means…
- muscle aches
- skin rashes
- brain fog
- excess mucus production
- increased GI problems – it gets worse before it gets better
- and a whole myriad of other issues
So now that I have you all terrified, here’s the good news: you have to eat a whole lot to cause it. When you first introduce sauerkraut or other fresh lacto-fermented foods into your diet, do it in small quantities. A small portion of sauerkraut, like a ¼ cup will suffice. And increase from there. You may notice a bit of stomach gurgling after you eat it the first few times – that’s okay. That would be the good bacteria waging a war the likes of the movie “300” on the bad bacteria.
A few notes before we get started – cabbage is one of the Clean 15 and does not need to be organic. You will need a jar that you can burp. I write about which jars I like in my Fermented Red Potatoes post. And, finally, you will want to put the sauerkraut somewhere where you don’t mind a little stank while it ferments. Some of the juices will leak out and it can be mildly smelly. Not too bad. Make sure you place a pie dish or something under it so you don’t have a huge mess to clean up on your counter.
Latin American Sauerkraut
- 1 head cabbage, washed, cored and shredded
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp sea salt (no iodine!!!!!!)
- In a large bowl sturdy bowl (I use a massive stainless steel bowl), mix all of the ingredients
- Now comes the fun part: Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage starts juicing well. You will see it becoming more and more wet as the time goes on and when it is finished, you will be able to squeeze some in your hand and have the juices run between your fingers.
- Place in 1- or 2- quart, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the cabbage. Do this in small increments, making sure to have all of the air bubbles pressed out.
- Place the lid on the jars and let sit on the counter for 14 days (after three days, there will be bacteria growth and after 14 days, there is a more complete panel). Place in the refrigerator and let sit for an additional week – do not open during this time.
- Open jars once a day during the sitting-on-counter phase to allow gas to escape.
- Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the fridge. Enjoy!
Recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.