Everybody’s yakking on about gut health, fermented food and the microbiome. If you have nooooo idea what they’re talking about, have a bit of a read here and then come back, OK?
In the words of that guru of guts Dr Michael Mosley ” Your gut is astonishingly clever. It contains millions of neurons – as many as you would find in the head of a cat (and we all know how clever cats are). It is also home to the microbiome, trillions of microbes that influence our mood, weight, immune system and gut health.”
Now I call that serious influence. You really, really want to keep team microbiome happy and healthy and one of the easiest ways to do that is include some delicious probiotics like kraut in your diet. So let’s do it!
Simple krauts could not be easier to make:
First up, gather the goodies:
- 2kg green or red cabbage
- 1 medium sliced onion (red ones look pretty)
- 20 -30g of salt (flakes or salt without the anti caking agents are best for this job)
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of fennel, caraway or dill seeds
- 2 x 1 litre jars
Next up :
Peel off the outer cabbage leaves and keep them for later on. Remove the core of the cabbage and slice as finely as you can. A mandolin’s a great help here, in fact it’s probably our fav kitchen utensil.
Now here’s the fun bit :
Combine the cabbage and onion in a good sized bowl and sprinkle with, say, half of the salt then just taste test as you go. Massage and squeeze the mixture for around 5 to 10 minutes until it drips like a sponge when you squeeze it. Stuff the mixture by the handful into a jar, pushing down after each handful to remove air pockets and force the liquid to rise. If the liquid that came out as you massaged isn’t enough to completely cover the mixture, add brine (made by adding 15 g of salt to 1 l of water and stirring to dissolve).
Make sure you leave 3 – 5 cms headspace in your jar for the mixture to rise as it ferments or you will end up with Niagara Falls. Truly. Lastly place a clean folded outer cabbage leaf held down by a carrot plug or glass beads or clean stones, whatever you have to hand, to hold the mixture under the brine. This is really important because it stops those freeloading moulds and fungi joining the party. If by chance they do invade and you see anything suss looking on the top of your kraut, throw it ALL out. Not just the top layer, all of it and make sure you keep it under the brine next time!
Righty – oh, all that’s left to do is leave your precious kraut on the bench out of direct sunlight for a week or two ( less in Summer. Check after 4 days. You’ll see it bubbling away as the microbes naturally hanging out on the cabbage leaves start multiplying. They create the lactic acid that sours and preserves your kraut as well as making minerals more bioavailable and adding a few extra vitamins. You need to “burp” it by unscrewing the lid and releasing the pent up gas as well as keeping a bit of an eye on the carrot plug if the weather is really hot. Replace it if it goes mouldy.
Have a bit of a taste as you go and pop it in the fridge once you’re happy with the level of sourness. More sour is not better. Just trust you own palate.
And there you go, Christmas Kraut – a gift to your gut health. Why not do a bit of showing off and make some for your friends (spoiler alert Friends of Girragirra :))
Like to learn a bit more about the magic of fermented foods? Need some hands on experience with kraut and other veggie ferments or milk based probiotics like yoghurt and kefir? Check out our workshops here. They’re always a lot of fun and we get to meet lovely people like you! Win | Win.