Summer. The grill is fired up and the kabobs are stacked with fresh veggies from the weekend's market. Plates are easy to keep colorful with the vast variety of food in-season, even here in Minnesota where the growing season is so precious and so short.
When the days are long and filled with activities and socializing, I am often looking for meals that are quick, and lend themselves to easy clean-up but that are still diverse, exciting and packed with the nutrients I crave.
Grilling and hearty salads are often solutions, but can get slightly boring if the condiments can't keep up! That's where sauerkraut comes to the rescue.
A few years ago, when I first began to experiment with increasing plant-based meals into my life, I signed up for a 30-day buddha bowl challenge with So Buddahlicious. The challenge came with complete shopping guides and recipes, tips on simple substitutions that made adjustments on the fly possible. Within that challenge was a recipe for a "Classic Buddha Bowl". A bowl with rice, beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocado and SAUERKRAUT. I thought I had misread the recipe. Sauerkraut in a hearty salad seems so so so so weird. I recall there was even a little note on the side of the recipe, ensuring readers that this was a delicious addition and to try it.
SO, being the open-minded individual I try so hard to be, I did. I have been liberally adding sauerkraut to my meals ever since.
Sauerkraut can be a bit of an acquired taste. It is generally salty, and a bit tart, hints of vinegar. What I appreciate about sauerkraut as an addition to a salad or dish, is that it makes additional dressing unnecessary. Paired with something creamy like hummus or avocado it completely satisfies your palate for crunchy, salty, tangy and smooth.
Not to mention that sauerkraut when homemade or bought unpasteurized is a powerful probiotic. It hosts a multitude of diverse microorganisms that work FOR you in aid of digestion and promotes positive bacterial growth in your gut.
Gut health. HUGE! Sauerkraut. DELICIOUS! Let's make some at home, shall we?
Easy Summer Sauerkraut
We begin with the following ingredients:
Organic Cabbage, red or green. Organic here is important for the quality of sauerkraut you will be making. Organic will help ensure that you have the most healthful bacteria already living inside and on your cabbage. This bacteria is what works on your behalf. You are worth it, buy this organic.
Salt - I used sea salt for the additional minerals present but any salt will work.
Additionally you will need:
Begin by removing the outer layer of leaves and cut your cabbage in quarters, slicing into thin strips. Add the sliced cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle salt all over it.
Continue slicing the next quarter of cabbage, adding to the bowl and sprinkling salt on top. Layering cabbage, salt, cabbage, salt...
The cabbage should begin to produce a liquid as the salt breaks down the cell walls. For about 5-7 minutes, get your hands in there and massage the cabbage, creating more and more cabbage brine. Ideally, the cabbage will produce enough brine to cover itself completely when transferred to the jar.
Transfer your salty, juicy pre-kraut carefully into your jar. (Note that if you are using red cabbage, the brine will be pink and WILL stain your light countertops if not wiped up swiftly )
Press your cabbage down into the jar, eliminating any air pockets that will interfere will the fermentation process. Cover with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. If you are using a ball jar, you can screw the lid ring without the top so air can get in and out.
Check on your kraut throughout the first day to make sure that it stays pressed down and covered by the brine. If by the end of the first 24 hours your cabbage has not produced enough brine to cover itself, make saltwater brine by combining 1 tsp of salt to a cup of water and add to your jar.
Keep your jar at room temperature for about 14 days, or to taste. Check on the sauerkraut every few days to keep it tamped down. If you see any mold, remove it immediately.
Once your sauerkraut is at your desired taste, cover and put in your refrigerator. Enjoy!
*experiment with adding herbs to your sauerkraut during fermentation like caraway seed or dill.