Sauerkraut is sour because of lacto-fermentation, a process in which probiotic bacteria break down the cabbage. A serving of sauerkraut gives you a powerful dose of these healthy probiotics, which aid digestion, and research has found raw sauerkraut prevents cancer cells from forming. It contains sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates, which help the liver eliminate excess estrogen and xenoestrogen. I use purple cabbage because it also contains anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.
5 lbs purple cabbage (1 large head)
3 tbsp pickling sea salt
2 tsp dill or cumin seeds
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 whole cloves or 1/8 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground ginger
2 bay leaves, crumbled
4 cloves garlic, halve
1. Discard any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage. Quarter the cabbage and remove the hard core. Finely slice the cabbage by hand or with a food processor.
2. Scald four 4-cup wide-mouthed Mason jars in boiling water. Meanwhile, combine cabbage, salt and any boosters in a large bowl until evenly coated (this helps to express the water faster).
3. Divide the cabbage among the jars, tamping firmly with a wooden utensil to remove any hidden air pockets and to bruise the cabbage, making it release juice. Cover each jar with a coffee filter or cheesecloth secured by a rubber band. Let it sit for 2 hours to allow the salt to draw out water from the cabbage. Every 30 minutes, tamp down the cabbage to help draw out the liquid and submerge the cabbage in the brine.
4. After 2 hours, if you still don’t have enough natural brine, dissolve 1 teaspoon pickling salt in 1 cup of filtered water, and pour over the cabbage. When it’s fully submerged, replace the coffee filter with a small sterile saucer that fits just inside the top of the jar so it rests directly on the submerged cabbage. Add a weight, such as a water-filled 1/2-cup Mason jar, to keep the saucer under the brine.
5. Cover the jars with a clean dishcloth to keep out dust and insects. Place the jars out of the way, at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks. Check them daily to skim off any scum that may build up on the top, and top with more brine if necessary. Replace the dishcloth with a clean one each time you remove scum buildup.
Makes 4 quarts (16 cups).
Tip: It’s very important that the cabbage stays submerged in the brine as it ferments so mould doesn’t form. After the fermentation is complete, store the jars in the fridge.
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