This sauerkraut recipe has become my staple, my “go-to” kraut. It’s a very simple ferment to make and comes out very satisfying to the palate. I’ve also learned that red cabbage has significantly stronger health-generating capacities than green cabbage. Aside from having 6-8x the vitamin C equivalent of green cabbage and powerful probiotic content, the deep color of red cabbage reflects a strong concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, which have health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities. Cabbage, especially in its raw fermented form is also revered by some as beneficial in supporting the treatment of ulcers and other stomach and digestive related issues.
Although I’ve been vacillating as to whether to call this fermentation recipe purple cabbage sauerkraut or red cabbage sauerkraut, one thing is clear from my perspective, it’s delicious!
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Fermentation time: 10-21 days (some leave it to ferment for up to 6 weeks)
Yield: 2 quarts
2 heads red cabbage
1 1/2T juniper berries
1T carroway seeds
- Begin by removing the outer leaves of the cabbage it they are looking a little sketchy. If they look fine, you should at least wash them off a little to remove potential contaminants.
- Chop the cabbage. I prefer to cut it in fat ribbons about 3/8 – 1/2″ wide. No need to grate it. I compost the dense nub that remains at it’s base.
- In a large bowl, toss the sliced cabbage with the salt and let sit for 30-60 minutes until it starts to sweat.
- Mix in the juniper berries and carroway seeds and place everything including any liquid at the bottom of the bowl into a fermenting vessel. I prefer using a 1 gallon glass cookie jar.
- Press down very hard using your fists or other implement. You’ll notice that you can squeeze out a little liquid which will pool at the bottom. After you tire of compressing it, place something with some weight on top of the cabbage to effectively continue pressuring the cabbage while you are resting. I prefer a 1/2 gallon glass jar filled with water. The salt will help to leach liquid from the cabbage.
- Compress with your fist a few more times over the next hour or two and try to get the liquid level up higher. Your goal is to have the liquid cover the cabbage completely to provide an anaerobic environment within which the fermentation can take place.
- If, after several hours or overnight, you can’t get the liquid level high enough, add some water (without chlorine please) to cover by at least 1″. Stir well to equalize the salinity level.
- Place the weight on it. A half-gallon glass jar is fine, but I’ve started using a clear plastic bag filled halfway with water and tied closed while allowing the bag to remain loose (not like how they fill the bag tightly when you buy a goldfish). You can place that loose bag of water (make sure it doesn’t have any leaks) into your fermenting vessel and allow it to settle in and take the shape of the vessel. In that way, a nice seal is made around the edge to keep oxygen and other potential contaminants out.
- Cover with a clean towel and let it sit for 2-3 weeks. Feel free to taste it every few days to gauge the progress of the fermentation flavor.
- Once it gets a nice tangy flavor, place it in the refrigerator. I prefer to place in mason jars first so they are ready to hand over as gifts as desired. The fermentation should take about 10 days or so but that will vary with room temperature and other factors.
Great as a side dish, tossed into a green salad, in a tortilla or dosa with almond/cashew butter and avocado, or on a veggie burger, or heaven forbid on one of those nasty kielbasas which squirt you in the eye when bitten.