• Sonia Ghiggioli

Winter is the time for... Sauerkraut

Each Winter when cabbages are in season, I love to ferment a batch or so of sauerkraut. I have been working with the process of fermentation for many years, fermenting grapes to make wine, milk to make cheese, native foods to make vinegars and an array of other ingredients to make fermented foods for my family and friends. I don't often follow a recipe, so cannot supply you good people with measurements of ingredients today, but I can provide a great link for you HERE from the Make Sauerkraut Website.

What I can do is to provide you motivation and encouragement to experiment with ferments and some tips for you along the way.

I discovered our local farmer's market today. I had driven past it so many times in the last 6 months but never seemed to have been on a day I needed fresh fruit and veggies. Today was the day! They had in season, large, crisp cabbages so I bought 3, enough to put down a good batch of sauerkraut.

When I got home I realised I had only enough salt for this batch, and was thankful I couldn't really carry anymore cabbages in the little trolleys supplied. All veggies are packed into boxes and the staff help carry them out to your car, a good gesture of old fashioned customer service. I will be returning there.

Tip 1 - I always use cabbages during mid to late Winter. These are the crispy and sweet and the pest and disease pressure is low due to the cold, meaning the bugs don't survive well. I aim for organic cabbages, but failing that, pesticide free.

Tip 2 - Most people suggest to cut the cabbage finely, but I like my sauerkraut to be chunky, what I class as provincial. I usually serve sauerkraut with creamy mashed potato, speck or thick bacon, caramelised onions and a good piece of wurst, or other locally smoked sausage.

Tip 3 - I always fill my 10L crock in batches, just enough cabbage to fit into a large stainless steel bowl. I find this to be a good size to knead the salt through the cabbage to release the brine.

Tip 4 - I use the best quality salt I can afford, and usually a mineral salt. I need to get more ayurvedic salt as the flavours are beyond any salt I have used. The last place I purchased it was from Nutri-Tech, a QLD company who specialise in soil health. You can find more details HERE. Today I used Himalayan salt, which has a beautiful pink hue.

Tip 5 - The fresher the cabbage, the faster it is to make brine! Each batch I did today took under half an hour to knead. The bowl begins full, then slowly you can feel the liquid being released from the cabbage. The brine is where the magic is. Take your time to make enough brine before transferring your cabbage to your crock.

Tip 6 - Use discarded cabbage leaves to top your cabbage in your crock before putting in the weights. The recipe above explains this clearly, and the purpose it so that nasty microbes do not find their way into your sauerkraut.

Tip 7 - When thinking about the jars you wish to fill with sauerkraut, select jars without metal lids. If you eat sauerkraut as a meal as we do in my family, select jars that will contain the right quantity of sauerkraut for dinner. I find we use kimchi as a condiment, but sauerkraut in the traditional style that I grew up with as a complete meal. Any leftovers in the jar are usually forgotten about!

I don't need to go into the health benefits of eating fermented foods, but if you follow the link you will find more information about lacto-fermentation and it's role in our society at What is Lacto-Fermentation?

Happy fermenting!

Sonia Ghiggioli

The Barefoot FarmHer

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