Fermenting Purple Sauerkraut, using Red Cabbage

Purple Sauerkraut, using Red Cabbage

(makes enough for one 500ml jar)

300g grated red cabbage or finely sliced
200g beetroot, grated (or use carrot.)
1/2 small apple, peeled cored and finely diced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp Himalayan Rock Salt or very good quality sea salt (not ordinary table salt)


When handling the red cabbage and beetroot, I wear gloves so that my hands don't become stained red. Put the grated beetroot or carrot in a large bowl with the grated cabbage and the diced apple.

Add the seeds and the salt and massage them well into the vegetables until water is released from the vegetables. Crush the vegetables firmly between your hands to release the last of the vegetable juices. If the cabbage has only been finely sliced and not grated, you will need to crush the vegetables with a blunt object like a pestle to beat out the juices further. I grated the cabbage and carrot in my food processor for my second sauerkraut attempt, and that worked well.

Pack the mixture into a sterilised resealable 500ml glass mason jar, leaving about an inch or 3cm space from the top for the fermenting mixture to bubble and fizz in the jar. My second lot did just that when I took the lid off to check it on the second day, which I took as a sign that it was working. Remember it's alive in that jar.

I used a chunk of cabbage stalk to push the vegetables down hard into the jar, so that the juices would come to the top and the vegetables would be totally submerged in their juices. Any clean weight will do. It is important that the vegetables are totally submerged below the liquid, with more room at the top as the level of the sauerkraut will probably rise up toward the lid.

Leave the sauerkraut at room temperature for at least 3 days. Open the jar daily for the first 2-3 days to release the carbon dioxide, and keep checking that the vegetables are fully submerged in the brine, and push the contents below the surface if necessary.

I needed to add extra liquid and salt to the first bottle I made as it was drying out. Filtered water needs to be used, not tap water as the chlorine has been removed and chlorine will kill the fermentation. 1/2 tsp sea salt to 100ml filtered water can be used to top up your brine if it is drying up.

In warmer climates it is recommended to put the jar in the frig on the top shelf after three days. It will continue to develop more flavour in the frig. Otherwise a cold dark cupboard is ok.

Dr. Mosley says that yeasts may form on the surface of the pickle, well mine isn't old enough yet for that to happen but apparently it can just be scraped off.

Any discoloured vegetables can also be removed from the top if necessary. My purple sauerkraut should keep in the frig for several months, so my fermentation stories and experiences are going to continue.

Over the next few weeks I hope to try Kimchi, the famous Korean version of sauerkraut, some white cabbage sauerkraut and perhaps try some other vegetables as well.

I am also going to make some delicious mozarella cheese, which I have done before, but mainly to extract the whey this time which is left, and use it in addition to the salt as a ferment. Sally Fallon is really keen on that method of fermenting and says it ensures even a better ferment. However some fermenters say that is only necessary in cold climates and I certainly don't live in a cold climate so that will be interesting to test.

I am told that if the ferment goes off, it will be quite obvious from the smell of it and we won't want to eat it so that is reassuring.

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