Making sauerkraut is an age-old process of preserving cabbage. Literally translating to “sour cabbage,” this fermented food is packed with wellness superpowers, such as probiotics for glowing gut health, vitamin C, iron, manganese, potassium, and is also a great source of fiber.
Sauerkraut can be enjoyed as a side dish, or it can play a more starring role, like in this vegan version of a classic Reuben sandwich by Mayim Bialik. You can add homemade sauerkraut to your vegan hotdogs or toss it into a fresh summer salad.
What’s more, it’s pretty easy to make with minimal ingredients- cabbage, salt, and a jar! That said, for those of you who are an old hand at the art of fermenting and sauerkraut creating, it might be time to get adventurous. Don’t worry, it is still great if you are new to this venture, too.
Though cabbage will remain the bulk of the ingredients in your sauerkraut due to its low sugar and ideal water content, other vegetables can be added to the mix. Try to keep your ratio to at least 75 percent cabbage, and leave the other 25% for play.
There are no hard-fast rules here. Just try to stay away from veggies that are weaker in their physical make-up, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. They won’t hold up to the rough handling required in the making of kraut and will likely turn to mush in the fermentation stage.
- Carrot- Due to its relatively high sugar content, it is best not to go too heavy-handed on the carrot portion of your kraut. If you give those hardworking microorganisms too much sugar, you might end up with boozy fermentation. However, carrot adds a welcome sweetness and a great pop of color to the greenery.
- Turnip- The firmness of the turnip gives your sauerkraut a little crunch. It holds up well to the massaging and squishing involved in kraut making, and it adds a little sweetness, too.
- Radish– This succulent veg works well with cabbage. Its high water content helps to produce more brine during the process and adds a pink tinge.
- Kohlrabi- Add grated kohlrabi to your kraut. It is sweet, has great water content and texture, and will be a welcome bonus to your sauerkraut.
- Beets- This is a great vegetable for its texture and water content, not to mention its color. Beets are also on the sugary side, so go easy on them.
- Apple- Apple is a classic kraut addition. Choose an apple such as a Granny Smith that is more acidic and much firmer in texture than other ‘fluffier’ apples for the same sugary reasons as before.
- Onions– Let’s not forget this savory staple. Onions probably don’t need to make up a whole 25%, but throw in some slices for a spicy and peppery pop.
Seasonings and Spices
This is where you can really play. Think of attractive taste combinations, such as carrot and ginger or apple and caraway, then let your imagination go wild. Adding spices to your mix can liven up the color and provide another dimension of flavor. Be aware that the intensity of the spices will increase during the fermentation period.
- Caraway seeds- This is a traditional sauerkraut seasoning. Add a handful of seeds during the massaging stage, and allow the aroma to permeate through the vegetables.
- Turmeric– Aside from giving your sauerkraut a glorious golden glow, turmeric will supercharge this already superfood. Either grate some fresh turmeric into the mix or use the powdered variety. Remember that turmeric has a strong flavor, so be mindful.
- Dill- Here, you can add fresh or dried dill, or for a more intense flavor, use dill seeds.
- Chili flakes- If you enjoy a little heat, don’t be afraid to spice things up with some chili flakes.
- Ginger– Dried powdered ginger or freshly grated ginger will work wonders. Imagine the warm spicy flavor of ginger alongside the cool crunch of the cabbage.
- Garlic– Freshly chopped garlic will give another healthful boost to your sauerkraut and provide you with that familiar heat.
- Coriander seeds- You will get a hit of cilantro flavoring in your kraut by throwing in some coriander seeds. Imagine this with a cabbage- and carrot-based ferment.
- Cumin– This will give your sauerkraut a warm and distinctive flavor reminiscent of Middle Eastern and Indian food, as well as extra healthful benefits.
Simple cabbage sauerkraut is totally delicious with its tang and crunch, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun and get creative. This list is just a starting point for sauerkraut adventures to come.
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