If you've only had store-bought sauerkraut (the gross ex-cabbage substance in the jar), you're missing out. The real homemade stuff is completely different. First of all, it's still recognizable as cabbage, so that alone is a step up. But homemade sauerkraut is so, so delicious and so good for you! I am no nutrition expert (I only know what I read and research for my own family), but I've found that it's full of nutrients and phytochemicals and is a good source of probiotics ("good" gut bacteria) as well. It's a fermented food that helps to make other food more digestible and the nutrients in them more bioavailable - which means you absorb more goodness from the rest of the food you eat. There's a ton of emerging research and information out there right now about this, including this article from the NY Times. I find it all super fascinating. But the most fascinating thing to me is how easy it is to make homemade sauerkraut. It's 4 ingredients dumped into a bowl, mushed up and pushed down into a jar. That's it.
My go-to recipe is from the Nourishing Traditions (affiliate link) cookbook because it's always turned out yummy - even my five year old loves it. I just made another batch yesterday and thought it'd be fun to illustrate the recipe and share it here. (And I'm waiting on client feedback for my other work, so I had a minute to spare.) So here's that:
(If you don't have Whey, you can just add an extra tablespoon of salt. Maybe I'll do a future post about how to make whey at home, too. Also easy.)
And here's a quick snapshot of how it turns out in the jar (the recipe calls for one quart-sized jar, but I used two smaller jars because that's what I had on hand). I also find pictures helpful for knowing what it's "supposed" to look like. Maybe that's also true for you. :)
Anyway, I hope you'll print out the recipe above (if you click on it, you can see it bigger) and try it in your kitchen! Let me know what you think.