The following recipe is a very interesting version of sauerkraut since garlic, thyme & seaweed add tons of beneficial properties to your cabbage ferment.
Cabbage is very rich in iron, iodine, sulphur, and phosphorus. An excellent source of vitamins K & C, and a good source of fibers, manganese, and folate. Lastly, it contains molybdenum, vitamin B6, potassium, thiamin, and calcium. It has mainly affinities in the GI tract, acting as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Garlic contains many noteworthy phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. More specifically, garlic cloves are very rich in potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. Allicin is responsible for the hot sense of raw garlic. When you cook garlic, the hot taste becomes mild and the allicin is going away. Its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties, make it a great natural antibiotic. Nonetheless, garlic has many affinities in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
Seaweed is well known as one of the best dietary sources of iodine. We use two different types of seaweed, one is Alaria (Alaria esculenta) and the other one is Kelp (Saccharina latissima).
Alaria (Alaria esculenta) is high in calcium (1,100 mg/100 g) and vitamin A content (8487 IU/100 g). Also, it is rich in B complex vitamins, vitamins C & K, and has moderate iodine.
Kelp (Saccharina latissima) is also known as sugar kelp. In Japan, Saccharina latissima is commonly referred to as Kombu, but this is confusing because that name also applies to many other edible species of Laminariaceae. So its precise name in Japanese would be Karafuto-kombu. It is a good source of iodine and iron. Likewise, a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, copper, zinc, nickel, vitamin K and other micronutrients.
Among many studies on seaweed, you will find those marine algae have positive effects on cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, degenerative diseases, detoxification, GI ailments, respiratory problems, sexual health, hormonal imbalance, thyroid issues, weight-loss support, and wound healing.
Kitchen Tools, Utensils & Equipment:
- Kitchen Scale
- Fermentation Ceramic Crock with Weights & Lids, or Wide Mouth Mason Jars with Mason Jar Airlocks + Fermentation Weights
- Mixing Bowls
- 3 Lbs. (1500 gr) Red Cabbage, organic & freshly harvested
- 2 tsps. (30 gr) Unrefined Sea Salt (Ratio: Approximately 2% salt from the total weight of cabbage)
- 10 Sprigs of Thyme
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Small Piece of Alaria Seaweed
- 1 Small Piece of Kelp Seaweed
- 1 tsp. Pink Peppercorns
- Cut cabbage in half, and then in quarters.
- Trim out the thick core and compost or discard.
- Slice each quarter down its length, creating some wedges, and slice each wedge as thinly as possible.
- Add salt. Weigh on a scale the sliced cabbage and multiply the total weight of the sliced ribbons by .02 to determine the amount of salt needed.
- Bruise the cabbage patiently, so it releases a lot of liquid. Gradually the cabbage will become more watery. This is about a 5-8 minute process.
- Add all the seasonings to the mixture and mix well.
- Pack the cabbage into the fermentation vessel, making sure to include all the liquid released by the cabbage while you were bruising it. Firmly press down so that the liquid covers the top of the cabbage. This will keep the surface of the kraut free of harmful aerobic bacteria. Only if needed, add extra water to cover the top.
- Place the fermentation weights on the top, pressing them as much as you can so it’s nice and packed.
- Wipe away the mouth of the vessel from any extra sauerkraut that spilled around the rim, to prevent any mold growth.
- Cover the vessel. If you are using the traditional ceramic crock, it has a water seal. Pour some water in and then cover with a lid. That water seal prevents any air from entering the vessel. Check once in a while to make sure that the water has not evaporated, and add as more as needed. Otherwise, if you are using a fermentation jar with an airlock, fill your airlock up to the fill line with water and then, place it into the air-tight gasket in the cap of your fermentation jar to let the air out. If you are using a regular jar without an airlock, burp daily and do not screw way too tight or it might explode.
- Ferment between four and six weeks, in a warmish environment, best is around 70°F / 21°C, keeping out of direct sunlight. You can place the fermentation vessel over a heating pad (have it on the automatic “stay on” setting), adjusting the levels of heat till you reach the desired temperature.
- After four to six weeks, taste to check the flavor of the kraut and scoop it out in smaller jars if you like.
- Reserve in the fridge or store in cool and dry storage space, and use as needed.
Here is what is happening throughout the fermentation process:
- Day 1-2: The fermentation process just started and the healthy bacteria are not present. On the other side, possible harmful bacteria are present.
- Day 2-5: At this stage, active fermentation is visible with lots of bubbles forming in the fermentation vessel. Beneficial bacteria start building up and most likely all the potentially harmful bacteria are not present anymore.
- Day 5-10: The bubbles will start to decrease and the brine will become more cloudy and the smell will become pleasantly sour. Lactobacillus species are thriving at this stage.
- Day 10-21: The flavor will become even sourer with Lactobacillus species dominating the solution. At the end of this stage, the sauerkraut should have a more appropriate flavor.
- Day 21-28: After three weeks from the beginning of the fermentation, you should start checking the taste and aroma of the sauerkraut till it reaches your desired flavor. The fermentation will be active even if you transfer the kraut to the refrigerator.
- Freshly harvested cabbage will hold more juice and the brine will be more flavorful, resulting in better kraut.
- Do not add extra water unless the cabbage is not fully submerged in water with its juices! The cabbage releases liquid, creating its brine solution. Make sure you bruise the cabbage patiently, to allow the cabbage to release its juices.
- If you see a white film on the top of the cabbage that doesn’t smell bad, most likely it is kahm yeast. It is not mold and it is not harmful to your ferment. Kahm yeast is an aerobic yeast that forms when the PH level of the ferment decreases because of the lactic acid formation. Remove this yeast by skimming the surface of the ferment, or just leave it there. The difference between Kahm yeast and mold is that kahm yeast is usually a thin, white layer, and mold, on the other hand, is a fuzzier, white, black, pink, green, or blue thicker film.
- It is better to use an airlock system, to prevent any risk of creating mold or other harmful aerobic bacteria.
- Store sauerkraut for several months, if kept refrigerated. It lasts for at least two months or often longer if kept refrigerated. When the smell and the flavor are not good, it means that the kraut has to be discarded. Remember that refrigeration won’t completely stop the fermentation process, but it slows it down. Ingest within 6 months for full gut benefits.
- Adjusting the recipe for different batches: To make larger or smaller batches of sauerkraut, keep the same ratio of cabbage to salt and select the appropriate fermentation vessel. Note that the smaller batches will ferment faster and the larger batches will need a longer time.
- Fermentation temperature: Keeping it between 65-75°F / 18-24°C is safer and more efficient for you. The higher the temperature the faster the fermentation occurs, however, there is a higher possibility of your kraut going bad. Lower temperature slows the fermentation process down significantly.
- Is the sauerkraut ready?: The taste is the real indicator to decide whether your kraut is ready or not. Usually, under-fermented kraut is whenever the taste is not sour enough, and over-fermented is whenever it tastes very sour. It should smell pleasantly sour and taste tart or slightly salty.