Spicy red sauerkraut

Photography by Julie Bidwell

Eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, is back in fashion. For centuries, fermentation was used as a way of preserving food, but now the method is making a comeback, and this time it’s because of the health benefits it brings. ‘Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics and B vitamins,’ says Terry Walters, a keen runner and the author of Eat Clean, Live Well (see her sauerkraut recipe below). ‘The bacteria they provide support everything from a robust gut and digestive system to immune strength and general health,’ she says. Here are some of the ways sauerkraut can help keep you hale and hearty:

● Sauerkraut supports a healthy digestive system

● It maintains the ‘mucosal’ barrier of the gut, which is a key part of your immune system

● It boosts probiotic intake

● Fermentation generates vitamins B and K

● It also enhances nutrient absorption from the fermented food


Spicy red sauerkraut

Ingredients

1 small green cabbage

1 small red cabbage

25g grated daikon (a long white radish that is also known as mooli, and is widely available in Asian and Caribbean food stores)

50g thinly sliced red onion

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp sea salt, plus more for brine as needed


1/ Core the cabbages and slice into thin ribbons.

2/ Place in a glass or ceramic bowl and sprinkle evenly with 1 tbsp sea salt.

3/ Add the daikon, onion and ginger. Add the remaining sea salt and massage the cabbage deeply for about 10 minutes, or until it releases its juices and reduces in volume by around half.

4/ Fill three jars (Kilner jars are ideal) three-quarters full with cabbage, packing it down (overfilled jars may bubble over during fermentation). Scrape down any pieces stuck to the sides of the jar above the top of the kraut. Pour in remaining cabbage juice and place a weight in each jar to keep the cabbage from escaping.

5/ Cover with muslin and set aside in cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

6/ Check daily. If the brine level hasn’t risen above the cabbage within 12-18 hours, make more brine by dissolving a teaspoon of sea salt into 250ml water, and add enough to re-submerge it; repeat if the brine dips below the level of cabbage at any point. Skim off any mould. Fermentation can be from five days to several weeks. Shorter fermentation gives a crisp and fresh taste; longer gives a softer, sourer taste. When the taste is to your liking, put lids on the jars and refrigerate.