We're back with another fermented recipe ... this time, it's our favourite sauerkraut recipe - made with purple cabbage and infused with fennel seeds. We love eating this with just about anything, it's such a delicious addition to a meal. You can make this recipe with green cabbage too, but we love the vibrant colour of red cabbage & the fact that it's more nutritionally dense. In fact, we recently read that purple cabbage actually has more vitamin C than oranges, as well as so many antioxidants that are healing for the body.
Eating sauerkraut regularly has really transformed my digestion over the past couple of years. During a difficult patch of stomach issues a few years ago, I dove deep into so many nutrition and holistic health books/podcasts to try and find a cure. Once I started to uncover how much our digestion is linked to our entire system, I became so determined to heal my gut and find balance again. It's pretty fascinating that our gut bacteria is so related to our brain function, immune system, happiness and so much more.
Food can be such a powerful medicine if we look at the source of illness instead of trying to suppress the symptoms. Alongside avoiding stress, one of the most important ways to strengthen our digestion is to feed our guts with friendly bacteria. Making your own fermented foods at home is such an affordable and tasty way of doing this. Especially as it's been shown to be more beneficial if the sauerkraut has been made and fermented in your local area. This is due to the relationship between the bacteria in your environment and the original bacteria in your gut. If you buy a sauerkraut that has been produced far from where you live, you may not receive the full benefits. For more fermented recipes, click here!
Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g.
To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage.
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar.
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release.
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth.
4.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
5. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds.
6.Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days.