Last week I tried my hand at fermenting my very first batch of cabbage. Fermenting cabbage not only preserves the cabbage, it also promotes the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria found on the raw cabbage leaves. This probiotic and enzyme rich food boasts many health benefits including vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), C, E, manganese, calcium, potassium, and it’s a good source of fiber. The large quantities of probiotic bacteria help to maintain and normalize the balance of intestinal flora, which boosts the immune system and can prevent and even reverse disease. How’s that for awesome?
Unfortunately, most commercial sauerkraut cabbage is not even fermented, instead they just soak it in salt and vinegar to make it taste like it has been. Also, it’s usually pasteurized, a process which kills all those beneficial bacteria as well as decrease the vitamin content.
Making your own homemade batch is super simple and tastes so much better than store bought varieties.
Here’s what you’ll need…
1 head of cabbage
2 tbsp unrefined sea salt
(caraway seeds can also be added to help the fermenting process but I didn’t have any on hand)
Other items used:
1 large bowl
1 quart sized mason jar
Here’s what to do…
Peel one cabbage leaf off and put it to the side for later. Chop the cabbage up nice and thin, add salt and begin massaging the cabbage with your hands. This process breaks down the cellular structure of the cabbage leaves so take your time and do it well. Leave the cabbage on the counter for about an hour to wilt and release it’s juices.
Here’s what it looked like almost an hour later. I left it to sit a bit longer until the cabbage released more liquid.
Once good and wilted, transfer the cabbage and juices into your jar, making sure to pack it down tightly to release any air bubbles as well as ensure the cabbage is fully submerged in the juices (you don’t want it to mold!). Remember that leaf you put to the side earlier? You can use that now to press down over your cabbage and keep your kraut submerged. That leaf can stay inside the jar throughout the fermenting process.
*** added note***
Leave about an inch of space at the top of the jar for the liquid to rise. You may also want to sit it on a plate or tray to catch any liquid that leaks out. Your jar will not explode, CO2 will build up inside and that’s part of the process.
Here’s my jar 7 days later. If you notice any scum floating at the top of your jar, you can simply spoon it off and top up your brine (1 tsp salt to 1 cup water) if necessary. You can leave your jar to ferment anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on how you like it. After that it will keep in the fridge for at least 6 months.
Next round, I’m going to half and half with green and red cabbage. This way I can reap the nutritional benefits of both types as well as enjoy the brilliant fuchsia color!
I’d love to hear from you if you decide to give this a go!