21 March 2020

Turmeric Sauerkraut


This next recipe is one I'm so excited about sharing - homemade turmeric sauerkraut! Sauerkraut is thinly sliced fermented cabbage, it has a tangy, acidic flavour, is super crunchy and works well on toast, with salads or as a little side dish to any meal. My recipe features fresh turmeric, ginger, carrot and pear along with white cabbage, for a crisp, delicious kraut that's overflowing with health benefits.


I've been eating fermented foods for a few years, but I only recenetly started to ferment myself - I learnt at a fantastic masterclass in London run by the wonderful Asa Simonsson, which was my Christmas gift from my family. Once my first batch of ferments from the class were complete I couldn't wait to get a creative with my own recipes and this turmeric sauerkraut is one of them! It's super easy and I've taken you through it below step by step with images and then just requires a couple of weeks of patience to let the ferment do its thing! Since I started fermenting I've have been eating sauerkraut on toast every morning - which if you follow my Instagram you'd probably know, I really love the stuff! I've been talking about it lots with my friends and family and I've even got my mum onto it - her first batch of sauerkraut should be ready any day now. Fermenting is really so fantastic for our health and is a really fun and rewarding thing to get into and is probably much easier than you think - so have a read below of all the amazing benefits, scroll through my step by step guide and have a go yourself! What are you waiting for?


The sauerkraut process uses the natural sugars in the fruits and veg and the lactic acid bacteria naturally present for a process known as lacto-fermentation. Fermentation is fantastic for our gut microbiome, also known as gut flora - consisting of all the trillions of bacteria, microorganisms etc that make up our digestive tract. There are two types of foods we can focus on including in our diet for a healthier gut; probiotics - the good bacteria from fermented foods like sauerkraut and prebiotics - the 'food' for the bacteria etc in our gut, which comes from foods high in dietary fibre. They say we should eat 30 different plant species a week - which we might not always achieve - but the main point here is around variety in our diets, trying new foods, eating wholegrains and foods rich in fibre and not eating the same foods every single week, if we can help it. Studies have shown that countries where traditional grains, fruits and veg are still eaten as the primary food source, the populations' microbiomes are much happier than those in countries following western diet patterns. The microbiome is also ever-changing based on what we're eating at the time and can be transformed over about a month, so it's never too late to start! Just swapping in a few white grains for wholegrain varieties and eating a little raw, fermented food each day is a fantastic place to begin and if you're not used to foods like these, swapping in a little at a time is actually the best thing to do, to give you digestive system the chance to adapt to the change.


So now we've talked about what probiotics are and what they do, why does this matter to you? The microbiome is being increasingly studied for its links to our health - improvements to our digestive system, immune system, mental health, heart health and many more are all linked to the microbiome. Just a small amount a day has shown improvements in studies, so don't worry, you don't need to eat a whole bowl of raw sauerkraut! Like anything, the health links above are not a one-stop shop - probiotics aren't a magical cure to any and all ailments, but they are imperative to keeping us balanced and healthy, along with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, which will, in turn, help our bodies to do their thing and work effectively.


I personally love turmeric and it adds a wonderful flavour to this kraut, but it's also really good for you. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and many people believe its active ingredient curcumin can help with conditions like heart disease and arthritis. Curcumin absorption is boosted with black pepper, so I've also added that to the recipe, along with mustard and caraway seeds for flavour. If you can't get hold of fresh turmeric, you can also sub this in for dried.

Ok, so how do you make sauerkraut?


I'll post step by step pictures here, but don't worry, the recipe is fully listed below for you follow too, along with everything you'll need to make this delicious recipe.  

You'll need a litre, clip top jar for your ferment. Be sure to clean everything with hot soapy water before use and wash your hands well, but there's no need to sterilise anything. The great thing about fermentation like this is that it creates an unfavourable environment for harmful bacteria, so as long as you follow basic food hygiene, it's actually pretty low risk. 


First, begin by thinly slicing your cabbage and then chopping and grating the rest of your ingredients. Be sure to save a chunk of the core and the outer leaves of the cabbage.


You'll then add salt, mix it in and let the mix sit for 15 minutes so some of the moisture can be naturally brought out. 


It's then time to massage your veg, this is important to help break down the cells and create enough liquid for the ferment. The turmeric can be a bit messy - so it's best to use gloves, or if you don't mind staining your hands, you don't have to - but the staining will last a few days on both your hands and nails.


Once you've massaged for about 10 minutes, you should be able to pick up a handful and liquid should easily come out when squeezed - this is when it's ready to add the black pepper, mustard and caraway seeds and mix them through. After that, it's time to pack it firmly into your jar - little by little add some to the jar and push down firmly with your knuckle - this will ensure there's no excess air in the jar.


Keep doing this until the jar is full, then pour over the remaining liquid. Place the outer leaf of the cabbage you saved over the mixture and push it down so it's submerged in the liquid, then weigh it down by placing the chunk of core you saved and carefully closing the lid. The core should be touching the top of the lid and the veg, so if there's a little room add another piece on top, or if the lid won't close, cut a little more off the core. 


You'll then leave your jar at room temp for 2-3 weeks - fermenting is best at temperatures of 18-20°C, so try to pick a place that isn't too hot or cold and stays pretty constant in temperature, but don't worry if your home is a little hotter than this. I also like to put my ferments on a tray as they can spill over. The jars will need 'burping' at least once a day, but in the first few days this could be up to twice a day. This just releases the pressure - but don't worry about anything building up too much - clip top jars aren't completely sealed, so you may get a little leaking through the rubber seal, but this is nothing to worry about! To burp, simply put one hand on the jar pushing down slightly and open the metal clip briefly before closing again with the other hand, you should hear a hissing sound - I'd recommend putting a tea towel over the opening of the jar when you do this, as when the ferment is really active it can sometimes spurt out a little.


Once done, you'll remove and discard the core and extra leaf and store it in the fridge. It can last a long time - though I'm sure you'll have eaten it soon enough - just be sure to use a clean fork when taking some out, you don't want to contaminate the batch with any other food or bacteria. 

Be sure to enjoy your sauerkraut raw - the bacteria are susceptible to heat, so cooking will kill off all the beneficial bacteria you've just created. I personally love to eat mine on a thick slice of toast with vegan cream cheese and a heaping of sauerkraut. On salads and as a side to main dishes it's delicious too!


If you have any questions - please leave a comment below, pop me an email or message on Instagram and I'll do my best to get back to you ASAP to help out!

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Turmeric Sauerkraut | Yield: 3-4 cups | Prep time: 35 mins | Fermenting time: 2-3 weeks 

You'll need


  • 1L clip top jar
  • Large bowl
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Veg peeler
  • Grater
  • Weighing scales
  • Food-safe gloves (optional)
  • Food tray / plate

Ingredients

  • 300g white cabbage (~1/2 a medium cabbage)
  • 100g carrot (1 large)
  • 1 large pear
  • 2-inch root fresh turmeric, or 1 tsp dried turmeric
  • 2-inch root ginger
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp caraway seed
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt 

Method

  1. Gather your equipment and ensure it's all clean - a little hot soapy water will do the trick - no need to worry about sterilising. Also, give your veg a rinse and be sure to wash off any visible dirt. 
  2. Then chop the cabbage in half through the stem, remove the outer leaves and cut out a big chunk of the core and place these to one side for later. Thinly slice your cabbage and transfer to the large bowl. Then peel and either cut into match sticks or grate the carrot, grate the pear, finely grate the turmeric (no need to peel) and peel and finely grate the ginger. Add the salt, toss together and place to one side for 15 minutes. 
  3. After 15 minutes, the veg should have released some of its water. Start to massage the veg mix, putting as much pressure as you can and really squeezing it. Massage for 10 minutes until the veg releases a lot of liquid when squeezed, then add the mustard seeds, caraway seeds and coarse black pepper and mix until evenly distributed.
  4. Then begin tightly packing the sauerkraut in the jar. Add a little at a time and press down firmly with your knuckle, ensuring you remove as much air as possible in doing so. Continue doing this until the jar is full, then pour over the remaining liquid. 
  5. Take your outer cabbage leaves and core you set aside early and if necessary tear the leaf to size. Cover the kraut with the leaf and press down so that it is submerged in the liquid, then take your piece of core and put this on top, creating a weight. The core should be quite tightly wedged between the kraut and the lid so it keeps it submerged. If your piece is two small you can use two pieces and if it's too large, cut a little off until the lid will close.
  6. Place your jar on a tray, or even a plate in a place that's around 18-20°C (see notes) and free from draft for 2-3 weeks.
  7. Each day you'll need to burp your jar (this may be twice a day in the first few days) - to do this, place one hand on the lid and gently apply pressure and with the other hand briefly open the metal clip - you should hear a hissing sound. You can also cover the jar with a tea towel when burping to avoid any splashes. 
  8. Continue burping for 2-3 weeks (active ferments in warmer rooms may continue to need more than one burp per day, but 1 is likely to be enough).
  9. Don't fully open your jar until at least 2 weeks are up. If your room temp is on the warmer side, your ferment is likely to be ready after 2 weeks, but may take up to 3 if it's on the colder side. To check the ferment, open the lid and carefully remove the core and leaf (but don't throw away), leaving the liquid in the jar and with a fork remove a little of the sauerkraut - the flavour will be quite sharp and acidic. If you're happy with the flavour, discard the leaf and core and store the sauerkraut in the fridge, but if the kraut is a little mild for you, carefully replace the leaf and core (ensuring it's submerged) and ferment for up to another week, following the same guidelines as above. 
  10. Once ready, serve up your kraut on toast, in a sandwich, with a salad or even as a side dish & enjoy! Be sure to eat it raw to retain all the probiotics! When serving up the sauerkraut, always be sure to use a clean fork to avoid contamination and it will last a long time in the fridge.
Cassidy xx

Tips:

  • Follow basic food hygiene rules - ensure your equipment is clean and you wash your hands properly before beginning. 
  • Hot soapy water is enough to clean your equipment - the fermenting environment is unfavourable to harmful bacteria which also lowers the risk.
  • Use fresh veg- old, limp veg may go a little slimy so isn't great for making sauerkraut.
  • Don't skimp on the salt - it's important for the fermentation process and to create a crisp, crunchy sauerkraut, the amount in the recipe is the perfect ratio for the amount of veg. 
  • Use gloves if you don't want stained hands - turmeric is pretty difficult to remove from your hands and nails and will take at least a few days to fade. 
  • Pack your kraut tightly and ensure that it's fully submerged in the liquid and weighed down. 
  • Try to store in a constant temperature - 18-20°C is best, but a little hotter or even colder won't be detrimental. If your home is hotter the ferment is likely to be a little more active and may be done after just 2 weeks.
  • Put your jar on a tray or plate in case it overspills.
  • Don't fully open the jar when burping - apply a little pressure with one hand and briefly release the latch with the other. You can also use a tea towel to prevent any splashes.
  • The first 3-4 days are likely to be the most active - so in the early days, burp your once in the morning and once in the evening. If you find the pressure is still building too fast after this, continue to burp twice per day. 
  • Be patient, wait at least 2 weeks before opening the jar fully and if your jar was in a slightly colder environment, wait up to 3 weeks. 
  • Once ready, always use a clean fork to avoid contamination and it should last a long time in the fridge. 
  • P.S. to retain all the goodness - eat your sauerkraut raw!