Monday, April 14, 2014

Feisty 'n Free Sauerkraut Recipe 1 - Carrots & Ginger

Since the year 2004, I have battled, off and on, with some serious digestive problems.  I share my story on some of those experiences, and what I have discovered from them, on another site called The Acid Truth.  This past September, my stomach began to have renewed problems with proper digestion, and this time I decided I must really incorporate fermented foods into my diet.  Sauerkraut always sounded so gross to me, but that's because I didn't know about high quality sauerkraut or about making my own. 

I will be forever grateful that I attended a free seminar at my local Natural Grocers where Kristin Urdiales talked to a packed room or people about her latest book Autoimmune: The Cause and the The Cure.  It was at this seminar where I also had the opportunity to meet a lady who was selling handmade ceramic crocks, and I was able to purchase mine from her.  I came home that day armed with crock and cabbages.

In the past few weeks, I've been exposed to a whole new and exciting world of fermented foods and delicious sauerkraut. And my stomach is all the happier for it!  I am so excited to provide my stomach with better digestion tools and my body with greater nutrients. 

Sauerkraut takes weeks to be ready.  During the time mine was "doing its thing", I purchased and ate two excellent brands of sauerkraut called Zuke (or Ozuke) and Farmhouse Culture.  I eat 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sauerkraut with my meals, especially those with protein (which is harder to digest). 

This was my first attempt at making my own sauerkraut, and thankfully, it was a success!  Here's my first recipe:


2 heads of organic cabbage
fresh organic ginger (about 1 inch diameter)
3 medium organic carrots
2 teaspoons salt (Himalayan, Celtic, or real sea salt)
3 quart ceramic crock with crock weights or other appropriate fermenting vessels


Make sure your crock and weights and clean.  It is best not to use soap on the crock or weights but to clean thoroughly with distilled white vinegar.  The crock weights should be boiled and cool before use.

Rinse the cabbage heads well.  Take off the outer leaves of the cabbage and set them aside.

With a food processor, shred the carrots and ginger.

Halve the cabbage heads and cut the hard center core out and throw away. 

I work with half of a cabbage head at a time:  a half of a cabbage head with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Slice half cabbage head into the thickness of a dime.  Place the shreds into a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over it.  Using your hands or a potato masher (or kraut pounder), work the salt into the cabbage to release the cell sap.  Continue to knead until moist, but don’t overdo it.  You don’t want the cabbage to become limp and mushy.  Place this pounded cabbage into another bowl and set aside.

Repeat the step above with each half of the cabbages.

Mix the shredded carrot and ginger with all the pounded and salted cabbage.

Place the entire mixture in the crock.  Gently press it down.

Layer some of the outer cabbage leaves on top of the mixture to cover it all up.  This will keep the mixture all tucked under and from floating to the top.

Wipe away any liquid or loose mixture from the upper or exterior edges of the crock.

Put the crock weights on top and press down.  If there isn’t enough liquid created to come up to the surface and cover the mixture and the weights, more liquid will have to be added. 

If it is necessary, make a salt/water solution at the rate of 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons of salt.  Mix the salt/water solution well and pour some over the mixture just until you see salt water coming up just to the top of the sauerkraut.  Careful not to add too much initially.  Once, I made the mistake of adding too much liquid and had brine overflow onto my kitchen counters.  Stunk up my house for a whole day! Check the brine of the kraut at 24, 48, and 72 hours.  Each time, press down on the weights to see how much brine comes up.  At 72 hours the cabbage will be settled down in producing its own brine and the brine must be enough to completely cover the kraut and the weights.  If it is not, you must add more.

Place the lid on the crock and fill up the outer water well half way with water to create an air tight seal which protects the fermentation process.

From 72 hours on, it is critical that the kraut, the covering leaves, and the weights are always under the salt/water during the entire fermentation process.  Otherwise, mold may start to grow on top.  If this happens, simply remove and discard any bits of mold; the cabbage underneath will be fine.

The kraut will take 3-4 weeks to complete its process.  I let mine ferment for 4 weeks unless it is really warm in my house during the summer, then I may only wait 3 weeks.  During fermentation, keep water in the water well of the crock and very occasionally check inside to make sure that the moisture content always remains above the mixture and the weights.  If it gets too low, you will need to add more salt/water solution.  Since I live in such a dry climate, I had to add it once during the process.

When lifting the crock lid, always take care not to allow any dripping from the lid to fall into the mixture.

After the fermentation process is complete (3-4 weeks), remove weights and covering leaves, and place the kraut into jars and refrigerate.  If jars remain unopened, the kraut will last 3-6 months.  Once you open the jars, it will last a week or two.

As soon as one batch of kraut is ready, it's time to start another batch.  So there is always homemade kraut available.

I will post different variations in the future as I do my own experimenting.   

© 2013 MaryAnn Broussard

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