The first time I made kraut, I was indifferent. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.
I was sold on the health benefits of fermented foods but as a lover of ethnic food, when would I want to eat kraut with a meal? I love when the things I’m eating compliment each other. Traditional German kraut with a burrito bowl? Sounds like an unusual combination. So I kept procrastinating making more, and just stuck with fermenting kombucha.
But now that I’m further down my real food journey, I’m realizing how many creative options are really out there for ferments. I don’t need to stick within the limits of traditional kraut with every meal, but a Mexican style kraut with a kick of lime on my burrito bowl? Now that I can get behind.
If you’re nervous about trying fermented food, this recipe is an awesome place to start! Orange and ginger is a versatile combination! It can compliment an asian dish, top a kale salad, or be the side dish to a light summery meal. No crazy flavors – just a kick of awesomeness in your mouth. The simplest additions to a fermenting staple elevates kraut to gourmet status. If you’re working to incorporate ferments into every meal, enhancing the flavor profile helps the ferment compliment the dish rather than it seeming like a random pile of probiotics on your plate.
Here’s how we created it and how Cooper helped:
First, I used a mandolin to shred the cabbages, layering it a few times with a sprinkle of salt. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then massaged the cabbage until I got plenty of juice when i squeezed. Side note: every time I make kraut or knead bread, I know why pioneer women didn’t need to go to the gym. My forearms were rocks afterward. If I ever fall off the real food bandwagon, it’s not because I stopped feeling great or got lazy, it’s because I was trying to keep from looking like a hefty Italian grandmother with forearms as big as my face.
Here’s a helpful video tutorial to walk you through the general process of making kraut. If you don’t know who Sandor Katz is, he’s the king of all things fermented
Next, after Cooper woke up from his nap, he massaged the cabbage as well. It was already done and ready to be jarred, but he didn’t need to know that
Next I grated the ginger in and we mixed it again. At this point I would add in the zest and juice of one orange [our original batch was a tease…not quite enough citrus flavor]. Also, slice your remaining oranges into 6-10 slices. Place 1 orange in the bottom and four on each side:
Next, stuff your jar with kraut, pushing down very hard as you go, to get the juices to rise to the top of the cabbage, as Sandor Katz demonstrates in the video above.
Add orange slices as you go, along the sides, and another slice on the very top when you’ve stuffed the whole jar, to keep the floating pieces of cabbages submerged under the brine. Top the jar off with brine, if you didn’t get enough natural juices out of the kraut.
- Place your jars in a glass dish on the counter. JUICES WILL LEAK so give them a place to go.
- Burp your jars AT LEAST 3x a day, especially first thing in the morning and right before bed. Explosions from neglected ferments, built up carbon dioxide are possible – keep your kiddos safe!
- Always COVER JAR WITH TOWEL before you burp it. The build up carbon dioxide will cause juices to come spraying out, so the towel keeps it all contained.
- If your ferment develops mold just scrape it off the top – everything untouched by the mold is safe to eat still.
- Keep your kraut several feet away from other types of ferments [kombucha, kefir, sourdough, etc] or the cultures can hop from one ferment to the next.
- 1 head purple cabbage
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- fresh ginger
- 3 oranges [2 sliced, 1 zested and juiced]
- celtic sea salt
- Large mixing bowl [like, super big]
- 1 quart Fido Jar
- Mandolin [Optional]
- Shred your cabbages, layering them with about 1/2 tsp of sprinkled salt 3-4x as you go.
- Let sit for 10 minutes while you slice 2 of your oranges.
- After the 10 minutes, massage the cabbage, squeezing to break down the cell walls and bring out the natural juices to create a brine.
- When everything's good and juicy [see video tutorial if you need a visual], grate approx. 2 TB ginger over the cabbage, add the orange zest, and orange juice. Mix until incorporated.
- Fill your jar with 5 orange slices, as pictured above.
- Start packing in your kraut, pushing hard as you fill it. You need to eliminate air pockets to prevent mold and you need to bring the brine up to the surface of your cabbage as you go.
- Once you get to the top of the first layer of orange slices, add another layer around the top half of the jar, cutting them in half if you need to.
- Continue to fill your jar until you almost reach the top. Add another orange slice and press down to cover in brine.
- If you don't have enough natural brine to cover it, mix 1 cup water with 1 tsp salt to create your own brine. Save what you don't immediately use in a lidded glass jar - you will use it more over the next 3 days.
- Close your jars and place them in a glass dish - I use a 9x11 pyrex. JUICES WILL LEAK OUT so you need to have a place for it to pool.
- Leave it on the counter for the next 3 days but BURP IT at least 3x a day, especially first thing after you wake up and right before you get into bed. Explosions from neglected ferments with built up carbon dioxide are possible - keep your kiddos safe! Also, always COVER JAR WITH TOWEL before you burp it. The build up carbon dioxide will cause juices to come spraying out, so the towel keeps it all contained ;-)
- After you pop the lid open on your jar, leave it for a few minutes as all the bubbles rise to the top. Submerge the kraut again and top it with brine if you need to [the cabbage often soaks up the liquid, requiring you to add more to keep it submerged, which keeps it from molding] If you do get mold, just scrape it off the top - everything untouched by the mold is safe to eat still.
- After 3 days, place it in the fridge. You no longer need to burp it. It will keep, on average, for 6 months. If it still smells and looks fine after 6 months, it's still totally fine to eat. You will KNOW when a ferment has gone bad.