Fermented cabbage is easy to underestimate simple because it’s so simple and cheap. But it’s also highly nutritious and delicious. This recipe is a variation of the classic sauerkraut. No sugar or vinegar is added.
Fermented cabbage is loaded with nutrients easy for the body to assimilate.
- contains large amounts of beneficial bacteria
- supports breakdown of toxins and waste
- increase assimilation of nutrients
- support a complete digestion
- support supple skin
BIG difference between commercially fermented cabbage and homemade
Fermented cabbage: step-by-step
Here I use green cabbage which is cheap and simple to ferment. Try adding red cabbage which has a beautiful color. Cabbage has a lovely, fresh, crunchy taste when fermented. You can of course add greens, seeds, and other vegetables if you like. Here I keep it simple.
This particular recipe calls for caraway seeds, which I learned to enjoy in Eastern Europe where fermented cabbage is popular.
- Organic produce: I think they taste better and are more nutritious. However, you can use cabbage from the grocery store. Rinse the veggies thoroughly in water.
- Salt: Traditionally, much salt is used when fermenting cabbage. Salt protects the veggies, makes them crunchier, and improves taste.
- When to add salt? Add salt to the vegetable mix before fermentation. This supports fermentation, lessens the risk of mold, and preserves the crunchiness.
- How much salt? Traditionally, a concentration of 2-2.5 % is considered normal, but I normally use less. It’s also a matter of taste. In this recipe, I added only a few tablespoons. Use Himalayan or sea salt.
- Starter culture: Body Ecology makes good ones. A starter makes fermentation stable, predictable, and adds more bacteria.
STEP ONE: Shred the cabbage
Mix the starter culture with freshly pressed celery or cabbage juice. Let the juice sit while shredding the vegetables. For 10 pounds of vegetables I use 1-2 quarts of juice. The juice protects the veggies. If you don’t have a juicer, try adding filtered water with salt.
In many recipes, green cabbage is the backbone of the veggie blend. Some add a few carrots, a sweet potato, parsley, ginger, or coriander leaves.
When preparing a small batch shredding by hand is okay. But for bigger batches it’s much easier to use a food processor.
STEP TWO: Mix starter juice and veggies
Pour the juice starter culture over the vegetables and mix well. Use your hands or some tool to squeeze. Squeezing, pressing and beating the veggies a few minutes is enough.
STEP THREE: Pack cabbage in air-tight jars
Pack hard to remove air which promotes fermentation. There are kraut pounders designed to do this. Don’t fill the jar completely but leave some 20% empty. Fermentation produces gas and makes the brine bubble.
STEP FOUR: Add juice
When the vegetables are tightly packed in the jars, add more liquid to completely submerge the veggies. Add a cabbage leaf on top to keep the vegetables in the brine. Here I added filtered water as I ran out of juice. Never use hot water as it destroys the bacteria.
STEP FIVE: Ferment at room temperature
It takes two or three days for fermentation to reach a peak. Fermentation produces gas increasing pressure in the jars and causing brine to leak out. This is normal. Put the jars where you can easily clean up like the kitchen sink or bath tub.
NOTE: Don’t put the lids on too tight on Mason jars so that gas can escape.
How long should the jars be kept in room temperature? Using a starter, between 5-12 days is normal. Room temperature determines this. In a warm climate fermentation is faster, and in a cooler climate slower. Taste to determine when it’s ready.
STEP SIX: Store in a cool place
After fermentation is complete, store the jars in a cool place like a basement or a fridge. Fermentation will continue, but much slower. The living culture in the jars will stay fresh for a long time, at least several months.
STEP SEVEN: Enjoy!
The taste should be tart and refreshing. A tablespoon of well fermented vegetables can contain more probiotic bacteria than a gallon of yogurt. Fermented cabbage has a soothing effect on many gut problems.
Usually due to the presence of unwanted microorganisms that break down protein and produce undesirable flavor and texture.
Cabbage too soft?
- Too much oxygen in jars
- Too little salt added
- Too warm
If the fermentation process is disturbed, it can results in soft or mushy vegetables.
Dark colored vegetables
Often because of the formation of bad microorganisms like mold. Make sure that the vegetables are covered by brine and that no oxygen is allowed into the jar. In addition, a higher temperature can stimulate the growth of undesirable bacteria resulting in a dark color.
Fermented cabbage with pink color
This is often caused by a group of yeasts that produce an intense red pigment in the juice and on the cabbage surface. One reason is an uneven distribution of or an excessive concentration of salt, both of which allow yeast to multiply. Using a culture starter minimizes this risk.
Fermented cabbage is live, active food. It’s a product of good cooperation between you and billions of friendly bacteria.