Tag Archives: cabbage

How to Make Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, and fermented foods in general, are experiencing a revival in recent years, with a great amount of thanks to Sandor Katz who helped bring fermentation to the mainstream with his book Wild Fermentation. But there’s sound reason for sauerkraut’s new hipster status: it’s awesomely good for you, and it’s really tasty (albeit an acquired taste for some).

Sauerkraut (directly translated from German as “sour cabbage”) is made by lactic acid fermentation, a process by which glucose and other sugars are converted into cellular energy and lactic acid by naturally occurring bacteria found on cabbage leaves. One of those bacteria is lactobacillus which you’ve probably seen on your containers of “bio-live” yogurt.

This happy bacteria is the crux of why sauerkraut is so good for you. Good bacteria is the stuff that happy intestinal flora is made of, and sauerkraut contains a whole lot more of it than live yogurt. And lets not forget cabbage itself, which contain natural compounds known to have cancer-fighting properties. In fact, studies have indicated that short-cooked and raw cabbage are the only types of cabbage to show such cancer-preventative benefits, upping the ante for sauerkraut (and coleslaw for that matter!).

Note that all of the above health benefits apply only to naturally fermented sauerkraut; most of the stuff you buy in the shops will have been pasteurised, thus killing any beneficial bacteria that may have once been present in the kraut. There are some brands such as Raw Health that now sell “raw sauerkraut” but you’ll be spending over £3 for a tiny jar; it’s far better to pick up a 99p cabbage and make your own. Making sauerkraut is inexpensive, easy, and you can adapt the sauerkraut to suit your tastes (by adding spices like caraway or Juniper berries, or mixing it up with purple cabbage, carrots and more!).

Homemade Sauerkraut

How to Make Sauerkraut
What you will need:

  • Cabbage (green, red or a mix; use at least one head of cabbage to make this worthwhile)
  • Salt
  • A container such as a wide-mouthed mason jar, an old-fashioned purpose-built ceramic “crock”, or a large food-grade plastic container (that’s what I use)
  • A plate or other flat object that will fit inside of the container above (I used the lid from another food-grade plastic container)
  • Something heavy like a scrubbed and boiled rock or a large jug filled with water (or other liquid – see my contraptions here and here)
  • A cloth cover – a tea towel will do the trick

First, weigh your cabbage. For every 2kg of cabbage you’ll need about 3 tablespoons of salt.

Slice up your cabbage. I used a food processor fitted with a fine blade, but you could also use a mandolin or a knife.

Making Sauerkraut
Put the cabbage in a big bowl and toss with the salt. It won’t be long before you notice water being expelled from the cabbage thanks to the magic of osmosis!

Making Sauerkraut

Pack the cabbage into your container, pushing it down into the container as you go. You want the cabbage packed super tight – this helps force water out of the cabbage.

Put your plate or lid on top of the cabbage, then put your clean heavy thing on top. The weight will continue to force water out of the cabbage. Always cover it with a cloth when left unattended.

Making Sauerkraut

The goal now is to expel enough water from the cabbage so that the cabbage is totally submerged in brine. So every few hours, visit your kraut and push down on the weight. If after 24 hours the cabbage isn’t submerged, add some salt water to just above the level of your plate (about 1 tablespoon of salt to 250ml water).

Leave the cabbage to ferment. Check it every day or two, then start tasting. There’s no minimum or maximum fermentation time – I let mine go for about a week. After a few days it will start tasting sour, but you can leave it to keep fermenting for a stronger sour taste. (Sauerkraut is safe to eat throughout the process, so you’re not risking anything by trying it!) When the sauerkraut tastes good to you, pack it up into a smaller jar and store it in the fridge.

The sauerkraut will keep for at least two months.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Favourite Uses for Sauerkraut

I must say, one of my fond memories from my pre-vegetarian days is Reuben Sandwiches. In light of that, I make a killer Reuben-esque omelette with sautéed mushrooms, onions, sauerkraut, caraway and swiss cheese (or avocado). Or more simply, sauerkraut mixed in with scrambled eggs is fantastic. I’ve also been mixing sauerkraut into salads; it goes especially well with beetroot. Going back to my German and Polish roots, I have a soft spot for sauerkraut pierogi and sauerkraut soup (hold the kielbasa), both of which really make me miss home!

Recommended reading:

It’s worth picking up one of Sandor Katz’s book (I have Wild Fermentation but he put out an extended version The Art of Fermentation in 2012 that gets great reviews). The book also offers suggestions for add-ins to your sauerkraut, including onions, garlic, seaweed, turnips, beetroot, caraway, dill and even apples. Also keep an eye on Charlotte Pike who is releasing a book on fermentation this year.

Further reading:

Clean Detox Day 7: Mexican Day

Clean detox day 8

Breakfast: Smoothie with 100g nectarine, 60g mango, 60g avocado, 80ml avocado, 1 date and a handful of mint. Highly enjoyable.

Lunch: Curried courgette soup – leftovers from Day 2

Dinner: Refried black beans, roast butternut squash, lime and cilantro coleslaw, fruit and avocado salsa

Another Airbnb dinner and the request was Mexican, so I made Rachel’s awesome frijoles negros to go with roast butternut squash and feta mole enchiladas (adapted from Rachel’s vegetarian tamales) along with the usual Mexican rice, salsas, guacamole, and corn chips. Really the only things off the radar were the corn tortillas and rice; I made a fruit salsa so that I could partake in some tomato-less salsa action (made with nectarine, mango, pomegranate, lime, coriander, avocado, salt and pepper). All in all, a great dinner and really nice conversation with my Aussie guests. That isn’t to say I wasn’t a little envious of their dinner…

Mexican night at the OC #airbnb: butternut squash & feta mole enchiladas, refried black beans, Mexican rice.

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Braised Carrots and Cabbage with Tofu

Shoyu braised carrots and cabbage with tofu, chilli and sesame seeds. #vegan #dinner

This was a very simple, one-pot (er, one-wok) meal. A few people on Instagram asked about it, so I thought I’d share it here, thus rekindling my long neglected daily food diary. I think it’s time to start it up again!

Here’s how I made the braised carrots and cabbage with tofu…

First I heated some oil in the wok on medium-high heat. I then added thin strips of firm tofu to the pan and sauteed until they were golden brown on each side. I sprinkled some salt and pepper on the tofu, mixed it all up in the pan, then removed the tofu from the pan and set aside.

In the same wok, I turned down the heat a bit, added a couple teaspoons of grapeseed oil, quickly followed by a clove’s worth of minced garlic and some carrots (they were small, young sweet and delicious; with larger carrots, I would have cut them into long spears; I would have added ginger, too, if I had it around!).

I sautéed the carrots and garlic until the carrots started to colour, and then added water to just cover the carrots, along with a few glugs of soy sauce (about 1 Tbsp or so). I then added the cabbage (big leaves from a young spring cabbage), mixed it up with the carrots and turned up the heat so everything simmered gently. I let it simmer until most of the water was evaporated, and then check the carrots and cabbage for done-ness. They were still a little firm so I covered the pan and let everything steam for a bit.

When everything was cooked, I put the cabbage and carrots on a plate, topped with the tofu and garnished with sliced spring onion, chopped coriander, sliced red chilli, toasted sesame seeds and fresh lime.

Braising vegetables is one of my favourite ways to cook them – I learned how to do it from Mark Bittman’s Book, How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian, one of my most-loved (and most-used) cookbooks. The technique is basically the same as the one he uses for braised and glazed brussels sprouts.

I especially like braising root vegetables. Case in point: Ottolenghi’s carrot and mung bean salad.


Indian Cabbage Salad

Indian Cabbage Salad

I had a pretty stellar Thanksgiving this year. The party included two of my bestest friends of all time, Rachel and Dave, visiting for the occasion all the way from Austin, Texas (via a year-long stint in Berlin).

On the evening before our big day of nut roast and Prosecco, I decided a pre-Thanksgiving dinner detox was in order. So I went with the kind of food that I know I can make well, tastes a bit celebratory, but just happens to be healthy and vegan at the same time. The meal: my reliable red lentil dahl with panch phoran, Indian cabbage salad, basmati rice and flatbread masquerading as naan.

Of all the dishes, the cabbage salad was the biggest hit, a nice thing because I never know if my love of this salad has something to do with my own personal obsession with all things cabbage, or with the fact that the cabbage salad really is that good. Rachel seems to confirm my suspicion that this, indeed, is cabbage clad in awesomeness, so I’m posting the recipe here for her and for all cabbage lovers of the world. (Consequentially, I also made this salad for my friend, Claudia, last year – you can see it in the picture above, made all the more better by her rad vintage tableware – she also gave it the thumbs up.)

This salad is basically a winter riff on this cucumber and coconut salad and leaves a lot of room for improvisation (because I know how much Rachel loves improv). Any cabbage will do for this salad, though I am partial to the texture of Savoy. Chop it chunky or slice it fine. Skip the carrots if you don’t have them, or try adding other slaw-style goodness like bell peppers. Up the spices or the chilli if that’s your thing. Go nuts with the coriander.

I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make this, but I’ve attempted to write it up as such all the same. Do let me know if you try it and what you think!

Indian Cabbage Salad

I left out the asafoetida and curry leaves when I made this for Rachel and Dave but if you have them, use them. Feel free to chop the cabbage and carrots as finely or as not finely as you have the patience and inclination. My tendency is often to slice as finely as possible, but sometimes I like a chunky salad!
  • ½ head of cabbage, finely sliced or chopped
  • 2 carrots, shredded or sliced
  • a small bunch of fresh cilantro (i.e. coriander), finely chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
  • ~10 dried curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced (be careful with these – they can be HOT!)
  • 2Tbsp grated or dessicated coconut (or more to taste)
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt

  1. Put the cabbage, carrots and coriander in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the oil in a large frying pan with the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Turn the heat up to medium and wait for the seeds to start sizzling and smelling delicious.
  3. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the green chilli and fry for another few seconds, then pour the oil and seeds over the salad. (If you’re struggling to get all of the seeds out of the pan, put some of the salad in the pan and swirl it around, then scrape back into the bowl.)
  4. Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and the coconut. Taste, adding more salt, lemon or coconut if desired.