I’ve got quite an obsession with fermented foods. The tangy taste and crunchy texture make the perfect topper to salads, sides and sandwiches. Apart from the great taste, fermented foods pose many health benefits. In fact, to a gut healthy diet, fermented foods are essential. Millions and millions of little bacteria live naturally in your gut, the “good” bacteria help keep us healthy and functioning optimally, but the “bad” often lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal issues. This is why it’s important to include fermented foods in your diet to continue the diversity and restoration of good bacteria in your gut.
Having a diet rich in naturally fermented foods decreases the chance of bad bacteria surviving in your gut. Your good bacteria are very acidic and ferment in your digestive tract this then creates by-products that lower the pH of your intestine and limits the survival of bad bacteria in your gut. This is how your body continues to restore good bacteria and fights off bad bacteria living in your gut.
The good bacteria present in fermented foods also helps break down carbohydrates in a meal. A meal with a lower glycaemic index results in less blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar fluctuation triggers physical and emotional stress as well as fluctuation of hormones, this is why it’s vital to ensure you’re getting a continuous supply of beneficial bacteria in your diet.
Kimchi, yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and pickled vegetables are my favourite go to fermented options and are readily available at almost every supermarket. But what’s really great is that making your own fermented foods at home is both simple and rewarding. Often commercialized products have been pasteurised to extend their shelf life, this processing technique can kill the beneficial bacteria present in the products so making your own ensures you’re getting the full fermented benefits.
Homemade Crunchy Sauerkraut is one of my favourite things to make. You can make this recipe with any combination of vegetables, herbs, spices and even fruits. But I thought I’d share just a simple one you can start off with before creating some other variations. So here’s my simple and fully loaded living Kraut recipe.
1 small cabbage
2 tablespoons Celtic Salt
Extra water if required
1. Ensure your preserving jars are sterilized, clean and brought down to room temperature before you start filling. This is essential to prevent the growth of mould or any other spoilage
2. Remove outer leaves of the cabbage and save them for later, cut the cabbage into half and start slicing thin bits that are no bigger than 2cm thick. Don't worry too much about getting them all the same as any larger bits well just be more crunchy
3. Place all your sliced cabbage in a large bowl and begin massaging your kraut firmly with your hands. Add your salt and continue massaging (usually 10 minutes)
4. The cabbage will soften, shrink and start releasing water, when this happens its ready to to be pickled. At this point you can also adjust flavours by adding any herbs, spices or extra zing with ginger and garlic.
5. Start placing your mixture into your clean sterilized jar. Press down firmly to pack all the cabbage into the jar so theres no air. The liquid from the massaged cabbage should rise up and cover the cabbage as you continue to press it down in the jar. If all the cabbage isn't covered, add some of the left over water in the bowl to completely cover all the cabbage.
6. Using the outer leaves of the cabbage you put aside earlier, use them to create a little lid to keep your cabbage submerged under the water. Close off your jar and set aside where theres limited sunlight and a nice room temperature which is ideal for fermentation.
7. During the fermentation process little gas bubbles will start to form on the top of your jar. When you start to see this, open your jar once a day to release the gas and ensure your cabbage is still submerged under the brine, this helps encourage proper fermentation. Depending on the taste you prefer, you can leave your Kraut to ferment for a couple of days to weeks. I usually leave mine for 2-4 weeks. As long as the brine is fully covering your Kraut it will be okay.
Once your Sauerkraut has fermented to your ideal taste, store it in the fridge and it will last for up to a year.
Has my Kraut gone bad?
You will definitely know if if this happens. The smell is very discouraging and over powering that you will not want to go anywhere near it. This usually happens if your equipment wasn't properly sterilized or if the kraut isn't fully submerged in the brine. If you see mould start to grow, throw out your batch, sterilize and start again.
Your delicious Sauerkraut will be loaded with millions of beneficial bacteria thats extremely valuable for your health, i hope you enjoy this easy recipe and start including more fermented foods into your diet.