Why make your own Sauerkraut?
I planted 12 cabbages at the start of lock-down. They’re just starting to heart up now, (just as the white butterflies arrive) so it is likely that I’ll soon have a glut. Homemade sauerkraut is a simple way to preserve the harvest, stock the pantry, improve gut health and support your immune system.
Whilst store-bought sauerkraut can be surprisingly expensive, making your own is easy and extremely economical, especially if you’ve grown your own cabbages. Sauerkraut also makes a lovely gift.
A traditional food, that originates from central Europe and has now spread to many countries. Sauerkraut, especially for women’s health and gut health, is a simple step I encourage women to add to their daily routine. I have a simple health philosophy – simple gentle change always beats a quick fix. And sauerkraut fits into this nicely.
What are the health benefits of sauerkraut?
Cabbage is a nutrient dense vegetable and a rich source of the vitamins B6, biotin C, folate and the minerals magnesium, calcium and manganese. Cabbage is also a rich source of phytochemicals, specifically glucosinolates, that include indole-3-carbinol and sulphoraphane. Numerous studies have demonstrated the anticancer properties of these compounds. The glucosinolates in cabbage improve the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. Like iron, cabbage plays a special role in women’s health and hormones, due to its ability to increase the rate at which oestrogen is broken down through the liver’s detoxification pathway.
Unpasteurised, naturally fermented sauerkraut is an excellent source of the gut friendly, beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. This supports a healthy digestive system, which in turn improves your immune system.
How to make Sauerkraut
Homemade sauerkraut requires very few ingredients and no special utensils, although you can use a food processor or mandolin to cut the cabbage if you choose. I also find a weight to keep the cabbage down is important along with something to aid packing the cabbage into the jar. I use the pestle from my mortar and pestle.
Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
- 1 whole red or green cabbage (fresh and organic or homegrown is best)
- 1 tablespoon of sea-salt
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds or caraway seeds (for additional digestive support)
- Remove the outer layers of the cabbage and set aside for later
- Finely cut the cabbage or shred in a food processor. Then place the cabbage in a large bowl
- Add the salt and mix together with your hands, massage well and really squeeze to break down the cell walls. You can also use the pestle from a mortar and pestle to pound the cabbage and speed up the process. This step is key, so don’t skip it. You’ll start to see a liquid (brine) emerge.
- Add the fennel or caraway seeds and massage until the cabbage is very juicy (when you squeeze the cabbage, juice should come out)
- Pack the cabbage tightly in a glass jar (agee are ideal), push the mixture down firmly with your hands (or use a pestle to help) so that the liquid rises above the cabbage mixture
- Use the outer cabbage leaves to cover the mixture. Then place a clean stone on top of the whole cabbage leaves, to help keep the cabbage mixture submerged
- You’ll notice the sauerkraut bubble over the next few days. The bubbles indicate the lactobacillus bacteria are busy working (fermenting the cabbage sugars)
- Leave for 2-3 weeks at room temperature
- Refrigerate once opened.
- Sauerkraut is a great addition to any meal, at any time of the year. Add to nourish bowls, crackers, as a side with poached eggs and kale.