Last night I made a batch of cabbage kraut. I’ve been dying to massage a cabbage or two since I got back from culinary school, where I learnt the basic technique. Added to that, I’m suddenly having feelings that I can only describe as jar-withdrawal. This time last year I had a whole shelf full of chutney courtesy of my apple tree. Unfortunately, I missed the window for that this year while I was in the US, so now I’m getting itchy to do some preserving of some sort. There is something really soothing about the idea of creating a well-stocked larder at this time of year. However as much as I’m partial to the odd bit of chutney or jam, most recipes are generally loaded with sugar, so I’m very excited to start practicing some supernourishing fermentation. I might even get a few gifts out of it, although I suspect homemade chocolates might be better received than cabbage, but perhaps they can get both?
I have a love affair with cabbage in any shape or form and usually eat it raw in salads or lightly steamed. My ideal traditional Sunday lunch would be potato in some form and a big steaming pile of lusciously green savoy; just give me a little veggie gravy and forget the trimmings. Cabbage may be fairly humble, but it’s a hero in terms of health benefits. It contains sulphurous substances, so is very beneficial for the liver, helping with detoxification. The skin, hair and nails also benefit from sulphurous foods.
Cabbage is a classic candidate for fermentation and preparing food in this way is one of the oldest techniques used for preservation, offering great health benefits to boot. Good health begins in the gut and including small amounts of friendly bacteria-rich fermented foods in your diet can really improve your digestive health. The gut is responsible for a huge part of our immune defence, it contains cells that react to invading pathogens and is one of our first lines of defence against infection, so what better time of year to get fermenting?
I recently purchased an e-book recipe collection entitled Cultured (edited by Kevin Gianni). I’m planning to delve into this more over the coming weeks, so I can spread my wings beyond my beloved cabbage – i’ll let you know how I get on. Now I need to get on the internet and order some more jars!
This is the basic Cabbage Kraut recipe we used at Living Light:
1 head of cabbage shredded
1 tsp of salt
1 large preserving jar
- Shred the cabbage finely either using a mandolin or in a food processor.
- Sprinkle the salt on the cabbage and massage until lots of juice has released (you can leave it to rest in between massages!)
- Once reduced and juicy you could add small amounts of other root veggies for colour and interest. I added some beetroot and a teaspoon of cumin seeds for added flavour.
- Transfer the kraut to a large jar and press down well until the liquid rises above the cabbage.
- Ensure the top of the jar is clean and use a weighted jar or bottle to press down and keep the cabbage submerged.
- Store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 3 days. The kraut can be left to ferment for up to 14 days if you prefer really sour kraut.
- Your kraut can then be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a couple of months.