I have a new love for sauerkraut. I used to dislike the vinegar-y taste of the kraut from the can; but when I took my first bite of real, lacto-fermented sauerkraut – who knew it would be love at first bite?
In fact, I love it so much now that I take forkfuls from the jar as a snack! Making sauerkraut is just another delicious item to add to your fermenting repertoire. Remember when I made pickle slices and told you a little bit about all the good stuff that goes along with lacto-fermentation? I also made Ginger Carrots which are really delicious as a condiment with venison and chicken. It wasn’t my favorite at first, but it truly has grown on me.
I thought I would share a little bit more about lacto-fermentation today before making some sauerkraut, so take a gander!
What is Lacto-Fermentation & What’s so Great About It?
Lacto-fermentation has been used by traditional people to preserve their food long before we had ways to chill our food, use artificial preservatives, or can it with high heat. There was a time when just a little liquid whey or salt was added to the food to start producing lactobacillus (probiotics) bacteria cultures. These cultures help preserve the food via lactic acid which adds lots more vitamin and nutrient content to the food, as well as wonderful probiotics that will allow your good gut bacteria to flourish!
That’s all lacto-fermentation simply needs: salt, water, and jars plus an anaerobic environment (i.e. “absent of air”) which allows the good bacteria to flourish. We all know there is good bacteria and bad bacteria. This fermentation method is amazing just by the fact that it destroys the bad bacteria and lets the good bacteria flourish with a few simple ingredients.
This is where our good friends Lactobacillus, other lactic bacteria (i.e. probiotics), and yeasts come in. This is what allows the good bacteria to flourish that will make our gut flora super healthy! But that’s not all lacto-fermented foods can do; they have been known to have anti-inflammatory attributes, provide aid in ridding the body of yeast infections, and can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.
What about Mold?
There may be an occasion you will find a little bit of white mold on top of your ferments. Most of the time this is nothing to worry about! Sally Fallon (co-author of Nourishing Traditions) says that if you open the jar, you will be able to tell your ferment is no good immediately and the smell itself will be enough for you to throw it away. But, if you want to know more about mold and lacto-fermentation, I covered the topic with some great links to articles in my post on fermented pickles. They are raw, cultured, and oh so good for you!
What Salt to Use?
I made the mistake of not using real sea salt once in my sauerkraut. And boy was it nasty! It tasted like cabbage in a salt-lick. I find the best quality of fermented foods I get is when I use really good real sea salt. I really like grey sea salt or pink Himalayan salt – they always will produce a great lacto-fermented condiment that I can count on to taste good and be packed full of good minerals.
adapted from Nourishing Traditions
1 organic cabbage, shredded (like for coleslaw)
1 tablespoon good sea salt
1/4 cup liquid whey
1. Place the shredded cabbage in a large glass bowl with salt and whey. Mash with a pestle (from a mortar and pestle) or wood pounder until the cabbage starts to release the juices (about five to fifteen minutes).
2. Place in a one quart mason jar and leave about one inch of head space at the top of the jar. Tightly cover with lids. Let ferment on your kitchen counter for a minimum of three days. Try to “burp” (let a little air out) the jars each day. Once it is fermented, store in the fridge.
3. It’s as easy as that!
Great items for fermenting: