Loaded with ginger, turmeric, and garlic, this dynamic sauerkraut contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds and is packed full of immune supporting microbes. This golden sauerkraut can be added to salads, topped on soup, or paired with eggs to provide a tangy crunch.
Did you know that 1/3 of all foods eaten by humans are fermented? There is a rich history of fermentation in nearly every traditional culture. People have long recognized the importance of fermentation as a low cost, energy efficient, and easy method of ancient food preservation. In addition to preventing spoilage, fermentation techniques have been used to improve flavour, increase medicinal properties and digestibility, and to reduce toxic components of food. Sauerkraut, soy sauce, tempeh, yogurt, cheese, and kombucha among others, are examples of fermented foods and beverages representative of human cultural evolution across the globe.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is one of the most well known fermented foods. With roots in Eastern Europe, the traditional recipe is simply shredded cabbage and salt. Sauerkraut is the product of the process of lactic acid fermentation. During fermentation, bacteria convert carbohydrates into lactic acid and organic acids that are used in our bodies for energy production. The lactic acid producing bacteria halt the growth of potentially harmful disease-causing microbes. This type of fermentation alters the flavour of food, adding depth, complexity, and sourness. The result is a delicious vegetable medley, rich in a variety of beneficial bacteria.
Nutritional Benefits of Fermented Foods
There are a plethora of health benefits to consuming pre-digested fermented foods. The bacterial action during lactic acid fermentation increases the bioavailability of nutrients and phytochemicals, specifically B vitamins, vitamin C, and food enzymes. Probiotics found in fermented foods are essential for maintaining microbial balance in the gut by eliminating pathogens that can be a source of inflammation and disease. By eating a variety of fermented foods on a regular basis, you can support your immune system, manage blood sugar levels, and promote optimal gastrointestinal health.
Golden Sauerkraut Recipe
- 2 heads of green cabbage (approximately 3.5 – 4 lbs). Save 1 outer leaf per jar.
- 3-4 medium sized carrots
- 3 inch piece of fresh turmeric root / 1 tablespoon dried powder
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1.5 tablespoons salt or to taste (sea salt or pink Himalayan salt)
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 large 1.5L sterilized glass jar and lid or multiple small jars
- 1 large bowl or pot for mixing
- Cutting board and knife
- Wash ingredients and clean everything: You want to make sure your equipment, ingredients, workspace, and hands are clean to avoid contamination.
- Prepare ingredients: Thinly slice the cabbage, julienne the carrots, chop the garlic and grate the turmeric and ginger.
- Combine vegetables and spices: Mix the prepared ingredients with the cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Use your hands to massage the mixture until it begins to break down (5-10 minutes). Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. You want to see liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
- Put mixture into jar: Pack mixture into the sterilized glass jar and push it down so that it sits below the brine. There should be an inch of room left at the top.
- Weigh down the mixture: Use the thick outer layer of the cabbage to cover the surface of the liquid. This will ensure the mixture does not rise above the brine. Oxygen is the enemy of this fermentation process and so it is crucial that the vegetables stay below the liquid in the jar. If there is not enough liquid, bring water and salt to boil and let it cool before adding it to the jar.
- Cover the jar: Cover the jar with a cloth or the original jar lid (if using a lid, make sure your “burp” the jar once a day by opening the lid and closing it again). Sit the jar on a plate to catch any overflowing liquid and store at room temperature.
- Ferment: Taste the mixture after 7 days and if it is to your liking, remove the cabbage leaf, secure lid, and place in the refrigerator where it will last 9 months or longer.
- Eat! Enjoy a small portion daily.
- Whenever using turmeric in a recipe, make sure to combine it with black pepper. The piperine in pepper increases the bioavailability of the curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, by 2000%!
- Use organic vegetables for fermenting. Your creations will be tastier and more nutritious.
- You can leave your sauerkraut fermenting at room temperature for up to 4 weeks. This batch was ready after 8 days. Each batch will be a little bit different depending on the temperature of the home.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment! Home fermentation is all about exploring new techniques and flavour combinations. Once you are comfortable with the basic method the possibilities are endless.
With Love and Nectar,
Katz, Sandor Ellix, and Michael Pollan. The Art of Fermentation: An In-depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012. Print.
Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease through Healthy Digestion. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.