Tropical Sauerkraut

How did humans invent fermentation?  

Humans didn’t invent fermentation. In a way, fermentation invented us humans. All life has descended from the bacteria. It is a symbiosis of animals, plants and bacterias. Co-existing with micro organisms and bacteria is imperative. In all of the cultures around the world and culinary traditions, fermentation exists. 

In this culture we have become hyper-obsessed with killing bacteria with anti bacterial, antibiotics and chlorinated water.. 

Bacterias are our protectors. Defence strategy of acidity. 

We are never just eating plants, we are eating the plants and the bacteria.

You can ferment just about anything. The miracolous Sauerkraut from Europe or Kimchi from Asia is one of my favorite easy recipes that you can create by simply using what you already have in your fridge. We use this ferment as jungle medicine with local ingredients from the organic farms around us and from our backyard. The super ingredients here are ginger, turmeric, garlic and chile.

Sauerkraut / Kimchi inspired

Special Equipment:

1 liter jar w/ Lid or Crock 

Ingredients:

1 cabbage (any color)

2 carrots 

1 Tablespoon Ginger 

1 Tablespoon Tumeric 

1.5 Pananmanian Chiles 

1 onion (or two small ones) 

sea salt to Taste

Process:

  1. Chop or grate cabbage carrots, giner, tumic, chile, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it.  Place cabbage and all other ingredient except for the chile in a large bowl as you chop it. 
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go.  The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting.  The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it.  Use more salt in summer, less in winter.  In the tropics it is hot, so we use less. 
  3. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock or a Jar.  Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any sturdy kitchen implement.  The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  4. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock.  Place a clean weight on the cover.  This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine.  Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep flies, dust, and mushroom spores out.
  5. Leave the crock/jar to ferment.
  6. Check the kraut every day or two.  You will see activity and  bubbles. I tent to burp the jars, by opening too let air out so that it doesn’t over flow. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds.  

Sometimes mold appears on the surface.  Skim what you can off the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove it all.  Don’t worry about this.  It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air.  The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine.  Rinse off the plate and the weight.  Taste the kraut.  Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes.  Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant if left for too long.

  1. Timing… Here is the tropics ferments happen FAST… give it 3 days.. and it is to my taste buds. Other people may like it more tangy. This is all about your taste buds. 

I generally scoop out a bowl or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge.  I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks.  Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic.  Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully.  Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below the brine just add salted water when necessary.

Enjoy.  We put this kraut on everything.. because it helps with Predigestion, Nutrient enhancement, Detoxification, and Probiotics . Here is an example of one of our favorite meals that we continue to eat over in over again. We eat the rainbow. To read about this plate and recipe read “Rich man poor man plate.”

Author: Jean Pullen