Wednesday, June 15, 2016

turmeric sauerkraut

Another fermenting adventure! I have been making some sort of kimchi or sauerkraut regularly now and it's so good to have this source of pro- and pre- biotics on hand at all times. I am really getting into feeding my microbiome. I have been consuming ridiculous amounts of greens and fermented foods as well as trying to live a little dirtier (the 5 second rule has been extended to the one minute rule and rinsing organic veggies has become optional).

Eating fermented foods is a great way to build up and feed your microbiome, the tillions of bacteria that call you, and your gut, home. I just finished reading The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan and let me tell you, I am a believer that bacteria are good for us. In fact, they are essential to our day to day functioning. Gut bacteria do everything from digesting our food to synthesizing hormones and neutralizing cancer causing compounds. Dr. Chutkan recommends eating fermented foods, which are crawling with live bacteria (probiotics) and a good source of fiber (prebiotics), everyday. Yogurt, kefir, and kombucha are also good sources of probiotics but don't include the prebiotic fiber that sustain and nourish the microbiome.

Fermented foods have an acquired taste (and smell!) but they are worth it for your health, so lets get fermenting!

The rule of thumb is about 1 1/2 Tbsp of salt per head of cabbage, but this can depend on the size of the head, so remember to taste it. I used 2 Tbsp in this batch because I had a massive head of cabbage. Salt and cabbage are the only two ingredients that you need to make sauerkraut but experimenting with different flavors is so fun, especially when turmeric is involved. If you are fermenting in a glass jar you can watch your kraut transform from greenish white to yellow-green, to a bright yellow. Purple cabbage also gives a fun color to your kraut, as well as beets or carrots. If you like spicy, try a few chili flakes, or better yet, a fresh fiery chili! The point is to be creative because you're going to be eating a lot of this stuff, trust me! Check out my previous posts on homemade sauerkraut, the amazing karrot kraut, and try my go-to recipe for kimchi from My New Roots.

turmeric sauerkraut
  • 1 head of green cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2" of turmeric root, peeled and grated 

Slice the cabbage, leaving out the core and any outer leaves that don't look very nice. Peel and grate the turmeric on a fine grater. In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the cabbage and turmeric with the salt. Start massaging it with your hands until a small amount of brine starts to form. This is the liquid being drawn out of the cabbage by the salt and the massaging. After a few minutes, it's time for a break. Phew! My hands get tired pretty easily doing this so I like to let time do some of the work too. Basically, once you have done some damage to those rigid cabbage cell walls, you can let the salt do some of the work. Place a tea towel over the bowl and let it set for about an hour.

The cabbage will reduce in size dramatically, to about 1/3 of it's bulk. After letting it set and allowing time for the salt to draw out more moisture, give it another quick massage. Now you should have enough brine for fermenting. Start transferring the cabbage into a large jar or fermenting crock one handful at a time, pressing firmly to compact each time. You want to rid any air pockets and cover all the cabbage with brine. After all the cabbage is in the vessel pour in the remaining brine to submerge it. The brine protects the kraut from any harmful bacteria that are present in the air and allows the lactobacillus, the safe bacteria that is already present on the cabbage, to do it's work.

I won't go into too much detail about the fermentation process here but if you want to learn more check out my first homemade sauerkraut post and the links I posted through there. This batch fermented for 5 days on the counter, out of the sun, and covered with a coffee filter. Make sure you check it and compress it to re-submerge the cabbage in brine everyday if needed. This can stay out on the counter for up to two weeks, it's up to you. Once you put it in the fridge the fermentation slows down dramatically so taste it and see if it's "sour" enough for you. Once refrigerated, sauerkraut will last a few months, if you don't devour it that is, it never lasts very long at my house!

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