Making Lacto-fermented Kraut

One of the first lacto-fermented foods I learned to make (with the help of a great friend here in York), was Kraut!

I love making it, and even better, I love eating it.

Even better than that, I love watching my babies (and husband) enjoy it!

So, I hope to share this easy recipe/method with you, so that you may try it for your family!

Lacto fermented foods aren’t like regularly pickled foods- they are raw so they still contain all their original nutrients (and then some).  They aren’t cooked or heated.  

Laccto-fermented foods are cultured with beneficial bacteria that help preserve it and make it more nutritious.  The foods retain their crispness and can be flavored in any number of ways by adding ingredients, such as garlic, spices, onion, fruit, etc.

And even better, they have added benefits for your health.

Some of those benefits include natural probiotics, increased vitamins, healthful enzymes and this natural process makes them more digestible.

On one of my favorite websites, The Nourishing Gourmet, she tells a little more about lacto-fermented foods-

“The health benefits of lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables are wonderful. I think we probably only know a small part of why they are so good for us. For example, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi got a lot of buzz in recent years after some scientists found that birds fed kimchi or sauerkraut would often start recovering from the Avian Bird Flu!” 

Not to mention it tastes amazing!  It is way better than any store bought sauerkraut you have ever had (especially if you are like me and only eat sauerkraut on reuben sandwiches.)

Lacto-fermented foods are … fizzy.  They are tangy, have a little fizz from the natural carbonation that is created during the fermenting process, and they aid in real health.  

They date back to the ancient Romans, and are considered a “traditional” food.  To learn more about traditional foods, grab a copy of Nourishing Traditionsby Sally Falon.

I will add some great resources at the bottom of this post for your leisurely reading (because we all have SO much time for that ….) that I love.

This batch of kraut produced almost 2 half gallon jars, in the end.  I used:
  • 2 heads of green cabbage
  • 1 head of purple cabbage
  • 1-2 sweet white onions (the more onion the spicier the kraut will be- not hot spicey, but like “zingy” spicy)
  • 3+ carrots- I think I used a one pound bag of organic carrots, but we LOVE them in our kraut
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of Real Salt (not that stuff you buy in the grocery store, and not “sea.”
  • Pure (pink) Himalayan Saltis WONDERFUL!)
  • 3/4 cup of homemade whey (a link to making homemade whey coming soon!)
  • A big bowl for pounding the cabbage
  • A fermenting vessel of some sort

Below: chopping cabbage (this batch my food processor had some issues … so some was by hand and some was in the processor)

Into my (antique) crock it all goes-Here is a link to my Dream Crock

Everything in the crock- cabbage, carrots, onion, salt, and whey

This is a jar of Real Salt.  If your salt is WHITE, and isn’t pink/gray/brownish, it’s not Real Salt.
You need to get some of this:

Here is my whey

And my baby bug pounding the kraut

Still pounding before gymnastics  😉

There it is:

When your kraut is about ready to jar, there will be several inches of juices in the bowl with the cabbage- it can take quite a while (15+ minutes) to get all the liquid you will need.  

We use a meat tenderizer (which was at a friend’s house at the time of this batch) or a potato masher to pound the kraut to extract all the juices.  Something a little heavy and good for pounding will work.

Then you add the kraut to your jar/fermenting crock/or other fermenting vessel.
To do this, you add a heaping spoon or two of the cabbage/carrot mix, then press down with one of these:

And poor off the liquid that comes up back into the crock or bowl.  

Continue adding kraut, alternating pressing down with the tamper, and pouring off the liquid, until the kraut is about an inch or so below the neck of the jar.

Then spoon some of that liquid you’ve been pouring off, back on top of your kraut.  A safe measurement is covered by about an inch, but as long as it is covered it is safe.  It’s when the food is exposed to air (ie, not covered with the liquid) that you risk mold.)

This is the kraut just after it has been jarred.

And this is our kraut after a few days of fermenting.  It is now ready to be moved to cold storage where it will be good for 6 months, or a little more.  (If it lasts that long before we eat it all ….)

If you ferment in glass jars like these, you will need to burp your jars once a day to prevent all the pressure from building up.  Once they’re moved to the fridge the fermentation process slows down so you won’t need to burp as often, but it is a good idea to prevent explosions …  =)

Isn’t it pretty?  I love the purple color!

We put the kraut on hot dogs, burgers, eat it as a side, and I even eat it if my tummy doesn’t feel good, to help queasiness or upset stomach.  Those natural probiotics are great for your gut!  (remember disease begins in the gut, with the loss of good bacteria, enzymes, etc.).

Here are a few links to wonderful resources on traditional foods and lacto-fermented foods:
GNOWFLIGINS– “God’s natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season”

Weston A. Price- lacto fermentation (Nourishing Traditions)

Nourishing Days

Deliciously Organic- the UNprocessed Kitchen

Simple Bites

Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon