How to Make Happy Gut Sauerkraut with Fennel & Caraway Seeds
It should be known that sauerkraut making is a divinely wonderful way of working out frustrations.
Imagine your current frustration as a head of cabbage that you get to slice, squeeze, smash to your heart’s content. And then that very criminal violence perpetrated on the unsuspecting cabbage yields a tasty and healthy food? Awesome, right?
I mean, come on, sauerkraut making should be offered as means of therapy for the passive aggressive.
I may have issues. That is not the point of this post though. Sauerkraut is.
And so it is that every summer, all my cabbages are ready at once. Well, sometimes I get a secondary crop, but that is also not my point. In past years I have run a seasonal CSA and I was really lucky if I got to keep a head of cabbage for myself. This year, I got greedy and stopped offering CSA. And now I have all the cabbages for myself. Bahahahahaha…
But there are only so many coleslaws one can make and it is too dang hot to do my stuffed cabbage rolls. So now that my family is well acclimated to cultured and fermented foods – I will be making ALLLLL the sauerkraut. More sauerkraut than a normal family needs – but we aren’t normal. We are 10. The more the merrier.
In true herbalist fashion, my sauerkraut calls for couple herbs to up the good for your gut ante. The addition of fennel and caraway offer great carminative value. This is to say that fennel and caraway help ease gas and bloating as well as other, ahem, unpleasant digestive issues. Fennel and caraway are familiar flavors with sauerkraut making their addition seem completely natural. My only other “special” addition to the sauerkraut were grape leaves to help retain texture and crunch.
My sauerkraut follows the standard recipe of five pounds cabbage to three tablespoons (1 ¾ ounces or 54 grams) sea salt. You could certainly use a mandolin like this or simply slice finely. Once all the cabbage is sliced, diced or otherwise comes the good part. Put all of that cabbage-y goodness in the biggest bowl you can find, sprinkle with salt, and go to town. I mean, really put some muscle into it. Squeeze, smash, toss, repeat until the cabbage is wilted and a substantial about of liquid collects in the bowl (about 30 minutes). Mix in fennel, caraway and optional grape leaves, place in a crock or a jar, weigh down, and ferment for 3-5 weeks (although it may be ready sooner due to the heat in your kitchen), I personally like using a gallon size jar with an airlock. Although this recipe doesn’t quite fill the jar, it leaves enough room for weights and prevents overflow from an active ferment.
Side note – simply salting your cabbage should result in enough brine-y liquid to cover the kraut. If it doesn’t create enough brine on its own (even after a few days) or if you encounter overflow, additional brine can be made in a ratio of four cups distilled water to 1.5 tablespoons sea salt. Avoid salt with “anticaking agents” (will make your brine cloudy) or extra large, coarse crystals (may not dissolve). Most important is to taste test your sauerkraut using a clean utensil after about a week or more. Your kraut is done when you like it – it isn’t a competition on who can ferment the longest. Packed in the refrigerator, your sauerkraut will stabilize and can sit for months (although it won’t last long here). Discard if any mold or off odors occur.
So grab your cabbages and let loose with a little aggression. This happy gut sauerkraut with fennel and caraway is all kinds of good.
Need more fermentation goodness. Check out these hot sauces with nasturtiums!
Sauerkraut with Fennel & Caraway Seeds
Take your aggression out on a humble cabbage & be rewarded with tasty sauerkraut! Add fennel & caraway seeds for a supped up, probiotic, gut-healthy kraut!
- 5 lbs cabbage finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 2 fresh grape leaves optional
- 4 cups distilled water
- 1.5 tablespoons sea salt
Peel and discard some of the outer cabbage leaves, saving two clean and unblemished leaves to place on top of your ferment later. Rinse and pat dry the cabbage. Quarter and remove the core. Sliced each cabbage quarter into thin ribbons.
Once all cabbage is prepared, place in a very large bowl and sprinkle with salt. With freshly washed and very clean hands start tossing, squeezing, and smashing. Continue these motions for approximately 30 mintues until a substantial about of liquid accumulates in the bottom of the bowl and the cabbage is wilted. Mix in fennel and caraway seeds.
Back into a one-gallon jar or fermentation crock. Press firmly to release more liquid in order to cover the cabbage. Place optional grape leaves on top of the cabbage at this time if desired. If there is not enough brine produced naturally, you may add some of the optional brine indicated above to cover. Place the reserved cabbage leaves on top of the soon to be kraut. Weigh down with fermentation weights like these OR by placing a gallon size freezer bag filled with the optional brine on top of the cabbage leaves. If using a jar, place on a lid with an airlock, or if using a crock follow instructions from the manufacturer. If no instructions exist for your crock, place a clean cloth or lid over crock to prevent bugs and contamination (if no airlock for your jar lid, place lid on somewhat loosely to release pressure from ferment.
You should see signs of fermentation such as bubbling within a few days. Allow your cabbage to ferment for 3-4-5 weeks, although it may be down sooner depending on the heat in your home. Start tasting the sauerkraut after about a week of active ferment with a clean utensil. The ferment is "done" when you are happy with the flavor.
Pack finished sauerkraut with brine into clean jars and refrigerate. The cool temperatures will slow the fermentation significantly, making this sauerkraut relatively stable under cold refrigerator conditions. Some krauts last in excess of a year if properly chilled. Discard if off odors, slimy textures, or mold occur.