Monday, December 26, 2011
Apple Caraway Sauerkraut
Traditional sauerkraut is pickled by a process called lacto-fermentation. Almost any sauerkraut you buy these days will be either faux pickled (using vinegar) or heat treated to extend shelf life, killing the healthy bacteria which gives Sauerkraut its distinct properties. The fermentation process not only lends a sour, tangy flavour, it also gives sauerkraut remarkable nutritional properties, improving digestion, encouraging the growth of healthy bowel flora, as well as offering a powerhouse of vitamin C and enzymes.
For those familiar with Chinese Medicine -
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the sour nature of fermentation lends an astringent property that helps to conserve fluids. Conditions such as diarrhoea, excessive sweating and haemorrhage (or Yin, Jing Ye or Blood deficiency in TCM) will all benefit from its sour, astringent nature. As salt is the flavour that governs the Kidneys, a healthy amount will support nourishment of the Kidney and water element. Sauerkraut also supports strong digestive function, helping the Spleen with the essential process of transformation and transportation.
1 green cabbage
2 granny smith apples
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Celtic, macrobiotic or himalayan sea salt (about 1/2 to 1 tbs)
Firstly find a nice big glass jar. My sauerkraut jar is a recycled 1kg honey jar, and I find it fits approximately one small cabbage once packed. Sterilise your jar following instructions I have in my previous post on pickled ginger here.
Choose a lovely fresh organic green cabbage. The fresher the better, as a cabbage with a high water content is essential for making a good brine for the fermentation process.
Chop your cabbage finely or coarsely, and place into a large bowl as you chop. Sprinkle the cabbage with salt as you go. I usually chop a layer of cabbage, a layer of sliced apple and then sprinkle with approx two big pinches of salt. Repeat until you have used the whole cabbage. Sprinkle the caraway seeds into the bowl and mix them through evenly.
The salt will pull the water out of the cabbage through osmosis, allowing it to ferment. It will also keep the cabbage nice and crunchy.
Now pack the cabbage and apple into your sterilised glass jar. Get in as much as you can with a spoon, then use a smaller glass jar that fits into the mouth of the larger one to pack it in. The packing helps to bring more water out of the cabbage; the aim is to have enough brine to cover the cabbage in order to keep it from being exposed to the air and becoming mouldy.
Once you have packed in as much as you can fit, fill your smaller packing jar with water and leave inside the mouth. Then place a heavier weight on top of the smaller jar, such as a can. Continue to press down on the weight periodically to bring more water out of the cabbage and to ensure that your cabbage is always covered in the brine. If the brine evaporates and the cabbage isn't covered dissolve about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and pour this into the jar.
Now leave it to ferment, checking it every couple of days, rinsing the smaller jar to keep it clean. I find green cabbage ferments quite quickly, even in cooler weather, it usually takes about a week. Taste it every couple of days until you get the taste you desire. You can leave it for longer if you want a more sour taste.
Once fermented keep sealed in the fridge. Eat on its own, with avocado on toast, as a side with your meals...the possibilities are endless! A little after a heavy meal will also aid digestion, the sour nature cleansing the palate and the pungency moving food stagnation.