Fruits and vegetables are often difficult to find in winter. Hence, meats, fish and vegetables were pickled across Russia, Germany and much of Northern Europe. During world wars, Germans consumed so much of sauerkrauts, that they were called Krauts. Being a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin B, this is one of the simplest and most widely consumed probiotics even today.
- glass jar
- 1 kg cabbage
- 50 gm Salt
- apple chili, capsicum, radish, cucumber, onions to taste
- Take a cabbage and chop them in long strips.
- You can add some carrot, capsicum, apple, radish, cucumber, onions or any other vegetable. (Avoid okra/ ladies finger which makes sauerkraut very slimy).
- Although the traditional recipe did not have spices, I like adding whole green chilies, grated ginger or grated fresh turmeric, garlic cloves to the mixture.
- Sprinkle a few teaspoons of salt liberally, mix well and set them aside for 15 minutes (a minimum of 3-5% salt is needed by weight to preserve vegetables).
- Now, clean a wide mouth glass jar or porcelain pickle jar.
- By now, the vegetables would have started becoming softer and when we press them, they would ooze juices. Pour all the vegetables (and juices) in the fermentation jar.
- Using the fists press the cabbage tightly in the container, make sure there are no air pockets left. Continue pressing the vegetables until the broth (vegetable juices) come out and submerge the vegetables completely.
- Cover the mixture with a few whole cabbage leaves so that the chopped vegetables do not float to the top and get infested with mold.
- Like pickle, Sauerkraut gathers mold because of air contact. Hence, it is important to put barriers that keep the vegetable from oxygen contact. Simplest is putting some weight on top. A glass or ceramic plates, cylindrical glasses (whiskey glasses) can be used. Otherwise some brine (salt solution) in a Ziploc bag and place it on top of the vegetables. (Even if the bags burst, they will not water down the salt content and spoil the pickle).
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Sauerkraut in India
I sometimes add different vegetables and tubers along with the cabbage base. This makes it a nice small treasure hunt for the kids looking for their cherished lotus root, carrot, white onion bulb or asparagus tastes. The broth is rich in Vitamin C and can cure scurvy. This nutritious liquid can be used as a cold soup or curry base.
Unlike brined pickles, this Lacto-fermented sauerkraut can be preserved for a whole year. Please read the label before buying sauerkraut from the store. Only the fresh sauerkraut, which neither is pasteurized nor has any vinegar or preservatives added to it is probiotic.