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Amazing Kefir Kraut!

February 16, 2014

Kefir Fermented Cabbage Sauerkraut

Kefir Fermented Cabbage Sauerkraut

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, raw fermented sauerkraut is the “in thing”. Along with everyone else, I have recently discovered the joys of this nutritious food. Tangy and crunchy, AND full of goodness, sauerkraut is a fermented dish, high in probiotics and well regarded by those seeking an improvement to their gut health.

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, that present naturally in some vegetables. Lactic acid forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage and turn it into a pleasantly sour crunchy probiotic. It is extremely high in vitamins and anti-oxidants, and the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than raw cabbage. It is very low in calories and high in calcium and magnesium, and is a good source of folate, iron, potassium, and of course, fibre. What’s not to love? Unless you hate cabbage!!! To be honest, sauerkraut can convert even the wary cabbage eaters, especially if they like pickles.

I was first introduced to it in my twenties, when a German friend opened a can of the stuff and braised it with apples & sweet wine and pepper! She served it with roast pork and mash and I was in heaven! Perhaps it was the roast pork and mash..

Unpasteurised and uncooked sauerkraut contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes and probiotics. These improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract. You will find these raw sauerkrauts in the refrigerated section of health-food shops. This is my favorite fantastic bought one. The ones you find in the jars in  supermarkets have been both pasteurised and cooked, and whilst still providing plenty of fibre and vitamins, they do not have the probiotic action of raw versions. It’s so easy to make your own!

Sauerkraut has been used for centuries to treat stomach ulcers, and its effectiveness for soothing the digestive tract has been well documented. It even is a time-honored folk remedy for mouth ulcers but I haven’t tried it. As a kid who suffered mouth ulcers, I don’t think I could have been convinced of this!

Many versions of homemade sauerkraut are innoculated with dairy whey.  Some recipes don’t even use whey but just copious amounts of salt. I steer clear of dairy so I experimented with using my kefir grains and it worked amazingly well. If you have been making kefir and have a surplus of grains – this is a great way to use them up!!

My recipe uses minimal salt – I find most sauerkrauts far too salty and I was worried that the salt may kill the kefir grains. I have experimented with using different flavours such as turmeric and garlic, and have also tried other vegetables* but I prefer cabbage the best. Experiment with what you have in the fridge!!

500g cabbage
1/2 teas unrefined salt (I use Himalayan)
1/2 teas fennel seeds
8 juniper berries (optional, don’t worry if you don’t have any)
10 black peppercorns
2 tabs water kefir grains**
30 – 50g water kefir
Sauerkraut ready for fermenting

Sauerkraut ready for fermenting

Set aside the outer leaf of the cabbage and wash. Chop the remaining cabbage in your TM on SP 4 until uniformly chopped into ~8mm size pieces. Don’t chop too finely.
Add the salt and spices and mix on SP 3 REVERSE for 5 minutes. This is to bruise the cabbage & the spices so that the spices release their flavour and the cabbage releases some liquid.
Add the kefir grains and stir through. Pack tightly into a 1 litre jar and add 30 – 50g water kefir so that there is no air amongst the cabbage.
There needs to be some space in the jar so the cabbage can expand. Some cabbage will release more liquid than others so add as little extra water as you need. Fold the whole cabbage leaf to fit and place on top of the sauerkraut. You will need to weight the cabbage down so that there is no chopped vegetable exposed. This is why you use a cabbage leaf “cartouche” . I weighted mine with a jar filled with water that snuggly fit inside the sauerkraut jar. I covered the whole thing with a nut bag so bugs couldn’t get in.
Leave at room temperature for 48 hours then seal and put in the fridge for at least 1 week to mature.



*works great with carrot & turnip

** if you live on the east coast of Australia I can post some to you, go here.

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