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Sauerkraut for healthy digestion

September 15, 2016

 

1 small head white cabbage

1 small head purple cabbage

3 carrots

4 tablespoons sea salt

1.5 tablespoons caraway seeds

Large glass container with lid

 

Sauerkraut is a relatively new discovery for me but I absolutely love it! It is so delicious and tangy and excellent on a sandwich, added to a salad, etc.

 

When we still lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would buy it fresh at the local health food store and it was one the most expensive items I would purchase. Later, when we moved to the Middle East, this luxury was no longer afforded since I could only find the canned version that looked nothing like the delicious fresh stuff we had back in the US. 

 

Out of necessity, I took the plunge into fermenting at home and started making batches at home. I followed the guidance of some friends on the basic "how to" of fermenting and also pulled from recipes online and have successfully made multiple batches in the last year. 

 

Fermented foods are very good for gut health and this is all more important with the emerging research about the microbiome. I typically take a quality probiotic daily but also appreciate the importance of incorporating fermented food on a regular basis, such as yogurt or sauerkraut, to boost my gut health. 

 

To sterilize container, pour boiling water into glass container and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Discard water and let container cool. 

 

Cut or shred the cabbage into thin slices. Grate the carrots. Place all vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Add sea salt and mix cabbage thoroughly. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in caraway seeds. A brine should have developed at the bottom the bowl during the 10 minutes. 

 

Place everything into glass container. Tamp down to ensure packed tightly and brine should cover the vegetables. Ensure that there is at least 2 inches of empty space between the vegetables and the lid.

 

If the brine does not fully cover the vegetables, place a water-filled and closed Ziplock bag in the open space to push down enough so the vegetables are covered by the brine.

 

Close with airtight lid and set aside for 1-4 weeks. Store in an area that has a stable temperature and is not in direct sunlight (and/or cover with a cloth or towel). The optimal  temperature for fermentation is 65 - 75 F (or 18-23 C) and at lower temperatures the fermentation will take longer.

 

If you are using a mason jar, leave the lid a bit loose so some of the accumulating gases are able to escape. If it’s truly an airtight container, open the lid every day for a few seconds during the first week (during the most active fermentation period) to release pent up gases. 

 

After the first week, you can open your sauerkraut once a week and taste test for progress. I allow my sauerkraut to ferment for at least 3 weeks but 4 is even better.

 

Note: don’t use aluminum kitchen tools while making sauerkraut. 

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