Sauerkraut

Homemade sauerkraut is a fabulously healthy and tasty condiment. It’s also an excellent (and inexpensive) source of live probiotics. Traditionally, sauerkraut is made by hand – slicing it thinly and massaging it with natural unrefined salt for 15-20 minutes until enough liquid comes out to make a brine to cover the cabbage in the jars. I was quite delighted to discover that it’s much easier to make sauerkraut in your Thermomix – the chopping and massaging of the cabbage is done for you!

Spring and summer cabbages are quite lightweight so you may need two or three for this recipe – that’s what I used in our photos. In the winter, one large round head of pale green cabbage or Savoy cabbage will be perfect for this recipe. Cabbages are available all year round in the UK and Canada, so I make sauerkraut whenever I need it. If you are able to get fresh cabbages only at certain times of the year and you have a cold storage place (fridge or root cellar), then you can make several jars of sauerkraut to keep you going all year.

It’s important to use an unrefined natural salt for fermenting – I like to use pink Himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt. While you are ‘massaging’ the cabbage in your Thermomix, the salt will pull water out of it to create a brine where good bacteria can grow and multiply. Adding whey or kefir or kombucha, as I do in this recipe, gives the brine a headstart on the fermentation.

Holly Howe’s excellent sauerkraut website and Sally Fallon Morrell’s cookbook Nourishing Traditions have been good references for me as I learned about making sauerkraut. These are good resources to keep in mind if you have any sauerkraut questions.

This recipe is suitable for Thermomix TM6, TM5 and TM31.

ACTIVE TIME 10 MINUTES

TOTAL TIME 4 DAYS

MAKES 1.3-1.8 LITRES

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Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 kg whole cabbage, preferably organic or grown without chemicals
  • 1 level Tbsp fine pink Himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt
  • 60 g whey (from live yoghurt) or kefir or kombucha
  • 40 g water
  • 1-2 kilner jars or mason jars with lids, 1 litre size
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Remove and set aside 2 outside leaves, leaving them whole, then cut remaining cabbage into 3 cm chunks, discarding core.
  2. Chop 250 g cabbage chunks 5 sec/speed 4½ then transfer chopped cabbage to a big bowl. Repeat with remaining cabbage chunks in 250 g batches, leaving last batch of chopped cabbage in TM bowl.
  3. Add to TM bowl as much reserved chopped cabbage as you can fit in loosely up to the 2 litre mark, add pink salt, whey and water, then ‘massage’ cabbage 5 min/reverse/speed 3½.
  4. Add remaining chopped cabbage and ‘massage’ 25 min/reverse/speed 3½. Meanwhile wash jars and lids with hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and leave to drain and dry.
  5. After massaging the cabbage, you should be able to see lots of bubbly liquid in TM bowl and cabbage will have changed colour slightly. Transfer massaged cabbage into clean jars, pressing down firmly and leaving at least 3 cm free space at top of jars, then divide remaining liquid from TM bowl between the jars equally, topping up with a little extra water to cover cabbage if needed.
  6. Fold and place a reserved cabbage leaf in each jar to cover the chopped cabbage, pressing it down so it’s under the briny liquid. Add a weight to keep cabbage submerged so fermentation will take place anaerobically (without air) – I use glass fermentation weights made by Masontops. Leave 1-2 cm of space at top of jars to allow for expansion during fermentation.
  7. Seal jars, place each in a shallow bowl to catch any overflow of brine, then leave at room temperature for 4 days or until you see fermentation bubbles appearing – you might hear the occasional fizzy sound of CO2 gas escaping from the jar too – see 2nd tip.
  8. After 4 days, open your jar (release pressure slowly), then smell and taste your sauerkraut – at this point you may eat or chill it if you like the taste and crunch, or leave it to ferment a bit longer… I usually ferment my sauerkraut for 5-10 days as that’s the flavour and crunchiness we like in our family. Taste it every couple of days to decide when you want to chill it.
  9. Transfer jars to a cool place to store for up to a year, e.g. fridge or root cellar – see maturing tip (3rd tip). Serve a small quantity, e.g. a teaspoon to a tablespoon as a condiment with any meal, stirred into a soup at serving time, added to a sandwich or added to a salad; there are many delicious ways to serve sauerkraut!

 

Janie’s Tips

  1. Kefir whey is excellent in this recipe because there are so many probiotics in it, even more than in whey from yoghurt. The live bacteria in whey give the fermentation process a head start until the salt takes over.
  2. If liquid leaks out from the jar while it’s fermenting, loosen the lid only just long enough to allow the gasses to escape (you’ll hear it), then tighten the lid again.
  3. Once stored in your fridge, the fermentation slows down to almost nothing and the flavour continues to improve even more over the course of time! We prefer to eat it within 8 months but it will last longer. Sometimes I go through periods of time when I use other sources of probiotics such as kombucha, kefir, yoghurt, homemade pickles or ginger carrots instead of sauerkraut. If because of this my sauerkraut is left in the fridge for a longer time, the flavour and texture become softer but the probiotics are still there when I return to being in a sauerkraut mood!
  4. This recipe is gluten free (GF) and vegetarian – read ingredient labels to ensure all your ingredients are gluten free if gluten free is required.
  5. For dairy free (DF) and vegan, use water kefir or kombucha instead of whey.
  6. Learn more about sauerkraut and find answers to your sauerkraut questions here: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-fire-sauerkraut-in-a-jar/
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