It’s a cold, dim autumn evening in the mid 90’s and at home in our kitchen my mum and dad are forcing a shredded cabbage into a small bucket, until every ounce of juice has been squeezed out. They then cover it with a small plate and place a big stone on top, keeping the cabbage submerged in its own liquid. For the following weeks my Dad will check the fermenting cabbage and see if it’s still got enough juice. Every now and then he’ll ‘dig’ some sauerkraut out of the bucket, put it in a jar and keep it in the fridge for daily consumption. The smell of fermenting cabbage will linger in the kitchen for weeks.
Inspired by this sauerkraut nostalgia and requests from my food loving friends I’ve decided to share a simple fool-proof sauerkraut recipe that I use myself.
I recommend starting small and making a jar of sauerkraut first. I usually use a recycled 0.5l or similar size jar.
1 head of cabbage (white or red)
2-3 tbsp of Salt.
1-2 tbsp of caraway seeds (optional)
Shred the cabbage finely – I use a mandolin because it’s quick and easy, but you can use a good knife, just make sure you slice it finely so you can squeeze as much juice out as possible.
Place the cabbage shreds in a bowl and mix with salt and caraway seeds. Use your hands to massage salt into your cabbage and apply a bit of pressure to make sure the juice is coming out. It may help to leave it for a bit, 30min-1 hour. The cabbage should soften and get juicier. Before you start filling your jar, there has to be some juice already at the bottom of your bowl. If not, massage it for longer.
Start stuffing a jar with cabbage, one big handful at a time. Make sure you force it with your hand each time to the bottom of the jar so that there are no air gaps.
When you’ve finished stuffing the jar, find something to weigh down the cabbage to keep it submerged. I use a glass that fits in the jar, filled with water and pushed down on top of cabbage to squeeze out even more juice. You can also get glass weights, which are a bit more practical. Make sure your sauerkraut is submerged at all times. This is the key to a successful fermentation.
Cover the jar with a muslin cloth or a towel to prevent flies or anything else falling into it.
Wait. The smell and the look of it so enticing, I can barely wait 3-4 days before I start tasting but you should experiment with times as it will take longer to ferment in colder climates and colder seasons.
Sauerkraut is delicious on its own but can be eaten as a condiment with a main meal, mixed in a salad or even a soup. The leftover juice from sauerkraut is delicious too.
For more tips and inspiration for fermenting, have a look at the work of Sandor Katz and Annie Levy who also runs fermentation workshops.
Lately I have been getting back to fermented food. It’s just that it’s very tasty and, some say, quite healthy. Also, I come from a food culture where fermented food is part of the daily diet. Kefir in particular is used quite a lot especially during warmer summer months. My kinfolk and I eat it with boiled potatoes or make cold soup with beetroot called ‘šaltibarščiai’ (which from Lithuanian translates as ‘cold borscht’). It’s a delicious pink soup that I make for everyone who hasn’t tried it yet. I promise to share the recipe soon, but this post is not about that. This is me talking about having milk kefir grains and having incessant supply of kefir at home. If you’re in a similar situation here is a recipe you can try.
1 cup Almond kefir (made with almond milk and milk kefir grains)
very ripe mango (can’t stress that enough, how important it is that mango is ripe, all flavour depends on it)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cardamonn
1 tbsp sweetener- honey, maple syrup or other
Blend everything in a blender and enjoy. Kefir makes it all very refreshing and it truly tastes better on a hot day!
It makes me so happy to introduce you to this vegetable broth. It really represents what I think about food and healthy eating.
I found the recipe for it in a ‘Nutrition in essence’ book, written by a nutrition consultant Sarah Bearden. I would really recommend reading this book, as it has so much information about food and your body and some recipes too. The broth can be used for soups or drunk on its own. According to the author, people said they have better sleep, more energy, better skin and ‘experienced a soothing effect on the nervous system when they consume this broth daily’.
If you have a medium sized pot use just a third of the ingredients given and that will make the broth that you will use up in seven days if you drink one cup a day.
2 medium yellow onions
7 celery stalks
4 red potatoes (had white potatoes, as red ones weren’t in season, but it worked well)
2 sweet potatoes
12 green string beans (or runner beans)
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley
4 cloves of garlic
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice
1 tablespoon sea salt
I also added some more veggies because I found them in my fridge: fresh thyme (adds a lot of nice taste and smell) and some cabbage with the core.
1. Wash and roughly chop the vegetables into large chunks. Do not peel- even keep the skins on the garlic and onion.
2. put all the ingredients into a large pan.
3. Fill the pan with filtered water to cover the vegetables and to just a few inches below the top of the pan.
4. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for at least two hours.
5. Strain it using a colander, if you have line it with muslin and store it in a fridge.
Wild garlic is out in parks and forests, so if you feel like eating seasonally and being creative with your food go and get some Wild Garlic. You can use it any way you’d use kale or chard, just that it has much stronger garlicky taste. Here is a recipe I found and used to make wild garlic pesto.
You will need:
A big bunch of wild garlic
A small bunch of parsley
two handfuls of nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, pistachios)
2 tbsp of lemon juice
olive oil (generously)
salt and pepper to taste
Toast the nuts, then put all the ingredients in the blender and blend well. Store in a jar.
Have it for dinner with pasta. It has a nice strong taste, you will love it!