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The Wholefoodie: Susan Jane White on how to make a simple saurkraut


Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

Given the continuation of social distancing, cabbage may be the closest thing we'll get to a massage this season. So let's get funky!

Lacto-fermented foods, such as this week's sauerkraut, will help feed the good bacteria in our gut. At any one time, your gut contains over 1kg of bacteria. This is our microbiota - an inner metropolis where the good guys are constantly trying to crowd out the nasty challengers. If you're suffering from chronic constipation, bloating or industrial gas, your gut ain't happy. And neither are you. The great news is that you can do something about it. Funky February is here to help.

We're going to start pimping our pipes with fermented foods like kraut, plain yoghurt and kimchi to help restore our microbial balance. First up, the easiest of all ferments.

Simple Sauerkraut

Makes 1 large jar

You will need:

1.5kg cabbage, core and damaged outer leaves removed

2 tablespoons pure sea salt (double this if using flaky salt)

Pinch of caraway seeds

1 Finely shred your chosen cabbage. Napa cabbage (aka Chinese leaf) is the easiest to ferment. It quickly becomes juicy and wet, so very little effort is required. Sweetheart pointy cabbage is my second favourite. White cabbage can be a little ornery for beginners. Red cabbage will need 20 minutes of foreplay before it submits. But all are delicious when they samba with salt.

2 In your largest bowl, tumble the shredded cabbage with the salt and the pinch of caraway seeds. Leave for 30 minutes. When you return, the cabbage will be a little softer and floppier.

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3 Massage the salt into the cabbage for a good 10 minutes - just keep going until the cabbage is breaking down and releasing its fabulous juice. You need enough juice to cover the cabbage in its own natural brine. Decant into glass jars. The jars are best run through a hot dishwasher cycle first, to sterilse thoroughly.

4 Press the cabbage down firmly inside the jars, encouraging the natural juicy brine to rise. Place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in its juices. I use a clean stone. My kids love this, and anoint it with a spell.

5 Seal the jar loosely and keep it at room temperature for three days. It will fizz, gurgle and burp. Taste, and decide whether it hits the spot. If yes, transfer the jars to the fridge, where the sauerkraut will happily keep for a few weeks submerged in its own funky juice. If no, keep it on the kitchen counter for another 24 hours, then transfer to the fridge. l


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