This years long awaited Spring has properly arrived at last! My cherry tree is covering the garden in drifts of pink blossom, every inch of the green house is packed with little seedlings bursting from their pots and I did yoga in the sunshine for the first time this year with bumble bees buzzing and hens pecking my toes!
Everyone needs all the energy they can get when the days suddenly stretch out and we find ourselves moving so much more than even a few weeks ago.
Keeping our digestion happy and efficient is a way of helping stamina. And fermented foods are a great (and fun) way of doing this. Sauerkraut is an amazing food, naturally fermented, live and zingy and packed with easily available vitamins and minerals made accessible by the fermentation process.
Today I had the first try of a sauerkraut I made with cabbage and fennel. It was a couple of weeks old and was just perfect; refreshing and tasty.
I adapted a recipe from the wonderfully named Sandor Katz‘s book ‘Basic Fermentation‘
So here’s what I did;
I used one dense, white cabbage which weighed about 750 g
I grated the whole cabbage including the heart (you could finely chop it instead, and next time I’ll mix red and white cabbage to make a pink sauerkraut!).
As I grated it I mixed in a heaped desert spoon of sea salt and a handful of fennel seeds.
The salt makes the cabbage start sweating straight away and creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. Apparently, Sandor says it’s possible to use ground kelp instead of salt and I’ll try this next time).
I packed the kraut down really firmly into a basin, (the pressing down packs the kraut into the basin and starts forcing water out of the cabbage), then pushed down on top of it another similar basin filled with water to give it weight.
I covered the whole lot with a tea towel to keep dust out and left it like that for a couple of weeks in the kitchen. The warmer weather (or warm kitchen) helps get the fermenting going as microbes love a bit of warmth!
I found that my cabbage had enough moisture in it not to need to add any water, but you could add a little to keep the cabbage below the surface or the brine if you liked.
The fennel is a digestive aid and also made the sauerkraut particularly tasty!
Have a go! Shop bought sauerkraut is expensive, salty and usually killed off too, which gets rid of its main benefit!