In Germany it’s sauerkraut and in Korea it’s kimchi. Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have their own version called Acar. All over the world people have been pickling cucumbers, cabbage and radishes for nearly 4,000 years, each country bringing their own unique twist to the recipe.
A wonderful by-product of pickling is fermentation and its associated health benefits. When the vegetables are covered with water and salt and then placed in an airtight container the naturally occurring bacteria in the vegetables begin to multiply and eat away at the vegetable sugars, leaving a delicious sour tasting side dish to meats, cheese and salads, rich in beneficial bacteria, great for the digestive and immune system.
Red Cabbage Sauerkraut Recipe
You will need:
1 glass jar with an air-tight lid
3 pounds red cabbage
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
Fresh ginger, jalapeño, apples or carrots (optional)
1. Wash the cabbage and peel away any ugly pieces, reserving a few of the nice outer layers.
2. Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the hard core from each piece.
3. Slice thinly.
4. Put the sliced cabbage (and any other optional ingredients) in a large bowl.
5. Add salt and massage the vegetables to extract the juices. It will begin to soften and shrink in size.
6. Pack the vegetables and juices into the jar, a little at a time, and squish down as much as you can, extracting more juices and blocking out any air. (If the vegetables aren’t submerged under water, boil some salted water, let cool and pour over the vegetables to cover).
7. Top with extra cabbage leaves to block out remaining air.
8. Tightly seal lid and leave in a dark place at room temperature for one to three weeks. (My may need to cover with a towel to protect it.)
9. Check the sauerkraut every day to make sure the cabbage is still submerged. Skim away any gunk.
10. Start tasting after 7 days. In the cool winter, fermentation will take longer than in the hotter summer.
- The longer it sits the better! It will develop more flavour as it ferments
- Once it tastes the way you like, store in the refrigerator
- It should keep for a few months once refrigerated
- You want to start with really clean tools. Sanitize your jar, knife, cutting board, tongs and glass bowl with boiling water, which should kill off any lurking bad bacteria. We only want the good kind growing in our veggies!
Once you’ve made this basic recipe a few times you may feel ready to add in different spices, fruits and vegetables, its really all up to your own preferred tastes and creativity. What is important though is that you use only raw ingredients. Cooked, steamed or canned vegetables will not create the right environment for the fermentation to take place and associated health benefits.