Posted by:

I have been harbouring a food obsession for a while now.   A condiment of finely sliced cabbage, layered with salt and left to ferment. The fermentation process occurs due to the Lactobacilli bacteria that is found on the cabbage leaves naturally. The end result is a sour, crunchy tasting product that brings to life many dishes especially pork dishes as well as sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers, salads and so on.

The name of this condiment is Sauerkraut. I love it. It is a fantastic source of gut beneficial bacteria such as Weissella and Lactobacillus brevis. This translates into a product that has been used for centuries as a fermented food with the reputation of helping to heal an ailing gut.

It is popular in Eastern European and Germanic cuisine, where it has said to have been introduced to the Europeans by the Tartars. Its method of preservation ensures it lasts months and even Captain Cook kept a supply on his long voyages as one of the foods that helped prevent Scurvey (disease of Vit C deficiency) amongst his sailors. In Korea there is also a similar dish called Kimchi because the usefulness of fermented foods is well known world wide. As well as the health benefits its long shelf life ensured a supply of nutrients through Winter months.

There are many health benefits from this cabbage based dish. All cruciferous vegetables are great for the health and inparticular the gut. The lactic acid bacteria produced in the fermentation process can help in the fight against an imbalance of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the digestive system. If the gut bacteria is well balanced this helps the absorbtion of nutrients efficiently and supports the immune system. It can also have both an anti-inflammatory effect and is a source of antioxidants.

Vitamins                              Calcium                                             Fibre

B                                         Magnesium                                       source of live lactobacilli *

C                                         Iron                                                  rich in enzymes

K                                         Potassium                                        isothiocyanates

Folate                                  Copper                                             lutein

Manganese                                       zeaxanthin


*If unpasteurised. Commercial sources contain these health benefits to a much lesser degree and can be high I salt, so if possible buy fresh made or try and make your own Sauerkraut.

Recipes can be found all over internet and it is an especially easy dish to make. All you need is a head of cabbage (you could try doing it with red cabbage too), a large jar and a bowl or container, some sea or rock salt and a mandolin or food processor that can finely chop the cabbage. You essentially chop the cabbage place it in a bowl and layer it with sea salt, this pulls liquid from the cabbage which in turn starts the fermentation process. You need too press or squeeze the cabbage to further draw the water out.   Then cover over the cabbage and put something on top to weigh it down and squeeze out more water. Leave it for about 24 hrs and come back sporadically to squeeze and press the water out. Make sure the water level is just above the cabbage and if needed top up with a mix of some sea salt and water. The Sauerkraut is ready when it achieves that sour flavour but it varies from a few days to more than a week. Sometimes a greyish mould forms on top which you simply remove and make sure you dont ingest before tranfering to a tightly sealed container.