In German the word sauerkraut literally translates to "sour cabbage", and that is exactly what it is. Fermented foods have been around for centuries. It is a way to preserve the food. The refrigerator and ice box where the inventions that changed a diet common in fermented foods to a diet lacking in these amazingly health benefitting recipes.
History says that the first sauerkraut was actually invented by the Chinese 2,000 years ago by adding rice vinegar to cabbage. The Germans and Eastern Europeans changed the process by just adding salt to the cabbage to bring out the water and moisture, letting lactic acid which comes from the sugars, preserve the vegetables. It became a very popular recipe and a staple one in the gastronomy because sea men would take with them on their journeys barrels of sauerkraut, we are talking thousands of pounds of sauerkraut, and they noticed it prevented scurvy. How??? Well cabbage is rich in Vitamin C and to prevent scurvy, ascorbic acid or Vitamin C is needed. Since fresh citrus fruit and vegetables couldn't be kept on board for long journeys they brought with them sauerkraut, but they didn't know at the time it was the Vitamin C in the cabbage that was preventing the disorder.
Sauerkraut has many vitamins and minerals that are health benefitting. It helps to energize the body due to the amount of iron, which therefor increase circulation of blood giving you a more energized feeling. Due to the fermentation that occurs from live active bacteria that make its way into the sauerkraut it begins to ferment, but preserve the cabbage. These bacteria are extremely good for your gut flora. If you suffer from digestive problems, acne, bloating or gas this is a recipe you should prepare. Our gut determines so much of our health. Purchasing canned or pasteurized sauerkraut actually diminishes the health benefits due to the lack of probiotic bacteria that should be there if prepared the original way. The probiotics that make up the bacteria and that sour like smell and taste of sauerkraut can help to improve your overall health, and studies have shown that it reduces cancer cells as well.
I recommend giving it a try. It takes some patients, but it is worth it.
Yields 2 large masons, 12-15 servings
800-900 grams of sliced cabbage - I used both regular and purple
3 heaping teaspoons of sea salt
1/3 cup of filtered water
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds (optional)
1. In a large bowl mix together the sliced cabbage with the salt. Let is sit for a few minutes.
2. Then add the water and begin to massage the cabbage. You are looking for some juices to come out. Do this for about 5-6 minutes. The salt will begin to tenderize the cabbage.
3. Once you have massaged it, place it into the containers with the liquid. Close the lids and let this sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
4. Day 2 there may be some bubbles forming on the top of the sauerkraut, this is a good sign, that means bacteria. You may need to press down on the cabbage because the bacteria may expand it slightly. So press it down and top it with the lid again. Let is sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.
5. Day 3, liquid may be seeping out, place a plate under the mason jars and press down the cabbage again if it has expanded. Smell it, it should smell like sauerkraut, any other off smell and it has some bad bacteria. But if it smells like sauerkraut then you are on the right track.
6. Day 4, place the sauerkraut into a bowl, mix in the caraway seeds, place the sauerkraut back into the container. Seal them and they are ready for the refrigerator. They keep for a very very very long time, but I do recommend checking the smell before eating it if it has been months since you have opened the jars.