Ah Sauerkraut, where have you been all my life?
I am no stranger to fermentation as I have brewed beer, made yogurt and baked sourdough bread many times in the past -- but I'd never considered that Sauerkraut was created in similar mode. Sauerkraut is made by hard working lactic acid bacteria, similar to those that turn milk into yogurt.
I'd eaten sauerkraut before usually with bratwurst or a tasty frankfurter -- such as on the streets of downtown Stockholm -- but as for incorporating it into daily fare, the thought had never occurred to me.
But of late I have been reading through the 'nourishing traditions'/Sally Fallon franchise and within that pitch -- strident as it so often is -- fermentation is , um, kosher tucker. Within that stable of foodies is Sandor Ellix Katz's Wild Fermentation which waxes on and on about the health giving properties of bacteria created food, especially by sweated cabbage.
And it had never occurred to me that I could actually consider making my own sauerkraut. But there: it happens.
Since I have started to buy and eat the stuff I'm finding a lot of everyday, every meal, uses for sauerkraut. I like it, like I like my Greek yogurt.
While we may all swallow our yogurt with good bug tucker in mind, esp the lactobacillus stuff, sauerkraut may indeed be more powerful in its digestive consequences.
In fact when you review the literature, sauerkraut -- and related ferments like the Korean kimchi -- has an awesome reputation as it ticks a lot of nutritional boxes.
My gut is lovin the stuff. (And I've experimented with yogurts and aloe veras in the past -- items that are supposedly gastro intestinal marvels.)
Eating sauerkraut is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contains the bacterium Lactobacilli plantarum. L. planatarum is a very dominant strain of healthful bacteria which helps your digestive system in the following ways:
...inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast) • create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor • transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid Neutralizes the anti-nutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy • generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium (link)
When you consider how easy sauerkraut is to make 'tis amazing what you can do with a little salt and water. In the Philippines, a similar ferment is made, Atchara, based on shredded green paw paw rather than cabbage.
This then led me to experiment...
My Choko Sauerkraut Diary
- Sauerkraut CHOKO is what I'm trying to make.For the sake of tradition and name I'm using a little bit of cabbage but the bulk veg is young julienned chokoes, a few shredded carrots and a wee bit of chilli (with deference to Kimchi). The means is easy. I'm using a 8 kgm kettlebell as my weight and with the salting of the shredded stuff the juices are pouring out of the squeezed mix as I assume they should. This may work. Sauerkraut is good tucker, akin to yogurt in its attributes although not made from milk. But it's the Lactobacillus species that do the preserving work for you and acidify the medley. The first sauerkraut to arrive in Australia was on James Cook's Endeavour as its consumption prevented scurvy. Better for you than vinegar and sugar pickles...Tastier too. [Although it remains to be seen how my choko Sauerkraut will taste. But the logic is good. You should be able to make the stuff with chokoes.]
- I found this reference online and have adapted my approach my straining the juices off after a day and replacing the fluid with another simple brine solution in order to wash out some of the claggy bitterness you get with raw choko... The flavours are blending nicely, especially the chilli. So I decided to add some garlic for more zing.. and more chilli. This is so easy to do I tell you and if you are into probiotics, much cheaper than yogurt and far less fiddly. There's a nice merging of the taste of the little bit of cabbage I used, the carrots and the Chokoes. (Roughly 10:20:70 ). To make the juliennes I used a julienne blade you can pick up cheap from cookery shops. Love da tool.
- Behold after more research, I worked out that the best way to weigh down the shredded veg especially if you cannot find a plate to fit snugly in your crock (bucket of ferment) is to fill a plastic bag with water, seal the top and plonk that down onto of the ferment.
- First taste test (May 1st): After a week of soaking, what's the story? very crunchy. I should have used more salt to match the commercial sauerkraut brands.Unlike the cabbage based stuff this is more refreshing. It may have needed the little bit of cabbage to give the mix some zing. I appreciate the chili in the mix. Great after taste.