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Seaweed? In Sauerkraut? Really? Yes, really!
Wakame kraut is utterly delicious and a nutrient powerhouse. Seaweeds offer the best source of iodine available in nature, and iodine is essential for thyroid function.
Wakame in particular is very rich in calcium and magnesium, omega-3, iron and protein, plant-based folate, and vitamin B-12; combined with the fibre, vitamins C and K, potassium and phosphorus from the kraut, this jar is the perfect go-to healthy snack and addition to your dishes.
When people talk about the “magic” of fermentation they are not wrong. Fermentation preserves food effectively, makes nutrients more bio-available and easier for our gut to absorb, removes many toxins and creates new nutrients, some of which have been found to have powerful therapeutic benefits. This is all possible thanks to our beloved lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The LAB convert naturally-occurring sugars in the food into energy for themselves and munch on the fibres, making fermented foods easier to digest and giving that tangy sour taste we love.
Makes around 1kg of sauerkraut
1 small cabbage Sea salt (you will need 20 grams per kilo of cabbage) 1/2 cup Wakame or any edible seaweed you like, chopped into small pieces 1l clip top jar
The maths are very simple: you need 20 grams of salt per kilogram of cabbage, which is roughly 1 tablespoon of salt.
To sterilise the jar, preheat the oven to 110ºC. Wash the jar with a tiny bit of soap in really hot water then place in the oven upside down for about 20 minutes.
While the jar is in the oven, prepare your cabbage.
Cut the outer leaves of the cabbage, wash them well and set them aside. These will work as weights to keep your sauerkraut submerged while fermenting. Cut the cabbage finely (but not too thin). Place in the bowl.
Add the salt (remember, 20g per kilo of cabbage) and start pounding! You will need to do this in batches if you have large amounts of cabbage.
Pound for about 7–10 min, until the cabbage is wilted and there’s quite a bit of juice coming out, (if there’s not much juice, keep going at it, you need enough to cover the cabbage in the jar).
Half way through the pounding, add the chopped wakame. I use my knuckles or a pestle but you can also use a sauerkraut pounder. Don’t go too crazy with the pounding, you don’t want the cabbage to be too soft before you put it in the jar.
Carefully remove the jar from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit warm when you put the cabbage in, just make sure it’s not boiling hot. Place the cabbage and all the liquid in the jar, pushing down as you go. It’s important that you pack as much cabbage in the jar as possible, so don’t be afraid to squeeze it in. Sauerkraut ferments in its own juice – don’t be tempted to add water.
If the pounding was done correctly, there should be enough liquid to cover the kraut. Stop at about 2 cm from the top, then place a couple of the outer leaves on top, again pushing down to create a good seal. Make sure the kraut is completely submerged in the liquid so it doesn’t get mouldy. If it isn’t submerged remove solids until covered.
Place in a dark cupboard for about a week in hot weather and two weeks in cold weather. After a couple of days, you will see bubbles appearing – this is a good sign.
You will need to “burp” your jars a couple times during the process. I burp mine during the first three days. To do this, just open the top a bit, to let some gas out, making sure not to let too much oxygen in. Then close and put it back in the cupboard.
When the kraut is ready to eat, discard the cabbage leaves on top and place the jar in the fridge. It will keep refrigerated for six months to a year, but I doubt it will last that long.