"Kim-kraut" (or kraut-chi) is a combination of sauerkraut and Korean kimchi. It is much more flavourful than traditional sauerkraut but is not as spicy and pungent as traditional kimchi. It’s not only great for digestion — it is deliciously addictive!
Why are these fermented foods so good for digestion?
Sauerkraut and kimchi are made by a process called lacto-fermentation. There are beneficial bacteria on the surface of the cabbage and, in fact, all fruits and vegetables. Lactobacillus is one of those bacteria. When submerged in brine, the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits harmful bacteria and creates probiotics. And we all know that probiotics are good for digestion and a healthy immune system! Recipe
1 head red (purple) cabbage (about 5 lbs)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, finely chopped
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoon coarse sea salt (or other coarse salt)
OPTIONAL: Pinch of cayenne pepper (flakes or powder)
Large canning jar or Mason jar
Ornamental stones, marbles or other weights
Cloth & rubber band for covering jar
- Use red cabbage to make it a vibrant fuchsia colour that gives it wonderful table presentation.
- You can add as little or much garlic and ginger as you like. These are not mandatory, but the ginger adds much to the digestion benefits and both add flavour.
- Using bare clean hands to make it is controversial. Some recipes say that the good bacteria on hands help the fermentation process, and it was traditionally made this way, and others say it spoils the contents (so alternately, use a food mallet/plunger or wear gloves).
- If you make larger batches than the Mason jar, they will ferment more slowly, but 10 days (to 2 weeks) is still adequate. Eating the mixture after less than a week is perfectly safe; it will just have reduced fermentation.
- Storing kim-kraut to ferment at normal room temperature is thought to be best. Find a cellar or cooler spot if the room is too hot. In colder temperatures, fermentation will proceed slowly. Therefore, don’t refrigerate until you start to eat it.
- While it's fermenting, you may see bubbles, foam or white scum on the top. These are normal signs. If you see mold, though, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don't eat moldy parts, but the rest of the kim-kraut is fine.
- Use it to top veggie or meat burgers, weiners, salads, and stir-fried vegetables.
- Kim-kraut will keep for at least two months in the refrigerator.
Shred cabbage and toss with salt in a large bowl, saving one large leaf to cover the kim-kraut when you are packing it into the jar. Work salt into the cabbage with your hands by massaging and squeezing it to help juices release. After 10 minutes you will notice that the salt and massaging have made the cabbage become watery and limp. The cabbage has created its own brining solution. Add ginger, onions and garlic, and use a spoon to press them into the cabbage (so that hands don’t get very smelly!).
Put mixture in the Mason jar, packing each spoonful down to condense it. When all of the mixture is in the container, there should still be about 2 inches of room in the jar including juice at top. Make sure that the mixture is completely covered by juice. Then cover with a large cabbage leaf (also submersed in liquid). And on top, place clean stones or marbles to weigh the cabbage mix down, keeping it under the juice. Cover the jar with cloth secured by a rubber band.
Submerged in this brine for 10 days, the cabbage slowly ferments into sauerkraut. Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often to compact it more. Place the jar on a plate to catch any liquid that bubbles over the top.