Learn all about the health benefits and how to make delicious Turmeric Sauerkraut at home. This small-batch recipe takes only 15 minutes of hands-on time before mother nature takes over to cultivate those magical live probiotics.
Full of gut-health and immune boosting probiotics, you can use this versatile turmeric sauerkraut recipe in bowls, wraps, salads or sandwiches
- What is sauerkraut
- History of Sauerkraut
- What is fermentation?
- How Is Sauerkraut Fermented?
- What are the benefits of consuming fermented foods?
- What equipment do I need to make turmeric sauerkraut
- Effects of Temperature on Sauerkraut Process
- Effects of salt on the sauerkraut process
- Spoilage and Defects in the Sauerkraut Process
- Health benefits of turmeric sauerkraut
- Lets get massaging some cabbages!
- Turmeric Sauerkraut recipe variations
- Trouble Shooting: What can go wrong when making turmeric sauerkraut?
- Want to learn more about sauerkraut and wild fermentation?
- Discover more of my fermentation recipes
What is sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage pickle made by adding sea salt to create the ideal environment for probiotics to grow. It has been consumed for thousands of years for its probiotic effect and is rich in various vitamins and minerals. It has a slightly sour - tangy flavour with a fresh crunchy texture.
If you have problems with your digestive system, sauerkraut is a wonderous recipe to add into your diet.
History of Sauerkraut
Poor old sauerkraut has had such a bad reputation! A sour cabbage served with frankfurters. You either love it or hate it. Well, once you discover the true essence and health benefits of sauerkraut you may grow to love this miracle food that comes packed with incredible health benefits.
Sauerkraut is thought to have originated in northern China about 2000 years ago, around the time of the construction of the Great wall of China. It made its way to Europe about 1000 years later and was taken on sea voyages by Dutch and Portuguese seafarers as a way to prevent scurvy, due to it's high vitamin C content. Read more
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a process that has been practiced for thousands of years. Fermented foods are foods which have gone through the process of lacto-fermentation – a process in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and gets into the food creating lactic acid. This simple process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and various strains of probiotics.
Natural fermentation of foods also preserves and boosts the nutrients in food and even breaks the food down into a more easily digestible form so we can digest the foods even better.
How Is Sauerkraut Fermented?
Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. To put it simply: There is beneficial bacteria present on the surface of the cabbage and, in fact, all fruits and vegetables. Lactobacillus is one of those bacteria, which is the same bacteria found in yogurt and many other cultured products. When submerged in a brine, the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid; this is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
'Give your cabbage superpowers'
What are the benefits of consuming fermented foods?
If you have problems with your digestive system, it will be very difficult to eliminate them for good unless you improve the balance between the beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria which naturally exist in your gut.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by regular intake of fermented foods.
Consumption of fermented foods can help slow or reverse some diseases, aid digestion, improve bowel health and improve your immune system.
With regular consumption of fermented foods you will be sure that you are getting the highest nutritional value from your foods. Moreover, eating fermented foods will stimulate the growth of healthy intestinal flora, which maintains healthy gut and stronger immune system.
With fermentation you will be able to store foods for longer periods of time without losing any of its nutrients. According to some researchers there is a fascinating connection between gut bacteria and mental health – 90% of the body’s total serotonin amount is produced in the digestive tract. The right amount of serotonin in the brain makes you feel calm and happy.
Read more about the studies on the Gut - Brain connection here
What equipment do I need to make turmeric sauerkraut
No fancy technical equipment is needed
- Mason or kilner jar
- Mixing bowl
- Slicer - Japanese mandoline (or you can use a chefs knife to cut thinly)
- Gloves (otherwise you will have yellow hands from the turmeric!)
Effects of Temperature on Sauerkraut Process
The optimum temperature for sauerkraut fermentation is around 21ºC. A variation of just a few degrees from this temperature alters the activity of the microbial process and affects the quality of the final product.
Therefore, temperature control is one of the most important factors in the sauerkraut process. A temperature of 18º to 22º C is most desirable for initiating fermentation.
Effects of salt on the sauerkraut process
Salt plays a vital role in initiating the sauerkraut process and affects the quality of the final product. The addition of too much salt may inhibit the desirable bacteria, although it may contribute to the firmness of the sauerkraut.
The principle function of salt is to help extract water from the cabbage and in creating a favorable environment for development of the desired good bacteria.
Generally, salt is added to a concentration of 2.0 to 2.5%. At this concentration, lactobacilli bacteria (good guys) are slightly inhibited, but cocci bacteria (bad guys) are not affected.
Unfortunately, this concentration of salt has a greater inhibitory effect
against the desirable organisms than against those responsible for spoilage. The spoilage organisms can tolerate salt concentrations up to between 5 and 7%, therefore it is the acidic environment created by the lactobacilli that keep the spoilage bacteria at bay, rather than the addition of salt.
In the manufacture of sauerkraut, dry salt is added at the rate if 1 to 1.5 kg per 50kg cabbage (2 to 3%). The use of salt brines is not recommended in sauerkraut making, but is common in vegetables that have a low water content. It is essential to use pure salt since salts with added alkali may neutralise the acid.
Spoilage and Defects in the Sauerkraut Process
The majority of spoilage in sauerkraut is due to aerobic soil micro-organisms which break down the protein and produce undesirable flavour and texture changes. The growth of these aerobes can easily be inhibited by a normal fermentation.
Soft sauerkraut can result from many conditions such as large amounts of air, poor salting procedure and varying temperatures. Whenever the normal sequence of bacterial growth is altered or disturbed, it usually results in a soft product.
It is the lactobacilli, which seem to have a greater ability than the cocci to break down cabbage tissues, which are responsible for the softening.
High temperatures and a reduced salt content
favour the growth of lactobacilli, which are sensitive to higher concentrations of salt. The usual concentration of salt used in sauerkraut production slightly inhibits the lactobacilli, but has no effect on the cocci.
If the salt content is too low initially, the lactobacilli grow too rapidly at the beginning and upset the normal sequence of fermentation
Another problem encountered is the production of dark coloured sauerkraut. This is caused by spoilage organisms during the fermentation process. Several conditions favour the growth of spoilage organisms.
For example, an uneven distribution of salt tends to inhibit the desirable organisms while at the same time allowing the undesirable salt tolerant organisms to flourish.
An insufficient level of juice to cover the sauerkraut during the fermentation allows undesirable aerobic bacteria and yeasts to grow on the surface of the kraut,
causing off flavours and discoloration.
If the fermentation temperature is too high, this also encourages the growth of undesirable microflora, which results in a darkened colour.
Pink sauerkraut is a spoilage problem. It is caused by a group of yeasts which produce an intense red pigment in the juice and on the surface of the cabbage. It is caused by an uneven distribution of or an excessive concentration of salt, both of which allow the yeast to multiply. If conditions are optimal for normal fermentation, these spoilage yeasts are suppressed.
Health benefits of turmeric sauerkraut
Turmeric is a wonderous medicinal superfood. I use it in so many recipes. Turmeric is versatile to use and easy to incorporate into many recipes. I love adding fresh turmeric root to sauerkraut, it gives the most amazing color and boosts the nutritional content to another level.
You can read all about the health benefits of turmeric in My Food Library - Turmeric
Discover some more of my turmeric inspired recipes
Lets get massaging some cabbages!
- Chopping board
- Chefs knife
- Japanese Mandoline
- Micro-plane grater
- Mixing bowl
- Mason jar
- 1300 g White cabbage
- 20 g Pink salt
- 50 g Turmeric root
- 5 g Black pepper - ground
- .5 each Orange zest
- Assemble all ingredients
- Slice cabbage really thinly using Japanese mandoline or good old fashioned knife skills!
- Using gloves (or your hands will turn yellow!) peel the turmeric root. Finely grate the turmeric root.
- Add the thinly sliced cabbage and pink salt to a large mixing bowl. Now, massage liberally for 10 minutes until the natural water is extracted from the cabbage. The more liquid - the better. This is your brine to ferment the cabbage.
- Now, you can add the grated turmeric root, ground black pepper and orange zest.
- Massage for another 2 minutes.
- Add the cabbage to kilner jar or mason jar, making sure the cabbage is submerged in anaerobic environment (below liquid & without oxygen)
- Seal tightly and place a plate or bowl underneath to avoid leakage staining your worktop!
- Allow to ferment at room temperature for 7-10 day (check daily to make sure cabbage is submerged and press down with the back of a clean spoon to keep submerged)
- Once the cabbage is fermented, store the jar in the fridge and keep for at least 1 month. Be careful not to contaminate with a dirty spoon and keep covered.
- Using organic cabbage has the BEST results- that’s because the bacteria that ferments the cabbage actually comes from the surface of the cabbage to begin with. Garden grown or farmer’s market cabbage has more of this live bacteria still on it compared to grocery store varieties.
- If you cannot source turmeric root, try using ginger root.
- If you do not have pink salt, use a good quality sea salt.
- Pepper and orange are optional flavours I like to add, you can try adding your own spices and seasonings.
Turmeric Sauerkraut recipe variations
There are limitless variations of sauerkraut recipes you can make. You can get creative and add in various seasonal vegetables, herbs and spices. Try adding sliced or grated radish, carrot, daikon, parsnip, celeriac to your krauts.
Here are a few sauerkraut variations I have tried:
- Red cabbage kraut
- Beetroot and apple kraut
- Moroccan spiced kraut
Trouble Shooting: What can go wrong when making turmeric sauerkraut?
Not much! You may see bubbles, foam, or white scum on the surface of the sauerkraut, but these are all signs of normal, healthy fermentation.
If you get a very active fermentation or if your mason jar is very full, the brine can sometimes bubble up over the top of the jar. This is part of the reason why I recommend using a larger mason jar than is really necessary to hold the cabbage.
If you do get a bubble-up, it’s nothing to worry about — just place a plate below the jar to catch the drips and make sure the cabbage continues to be covered by the brine.
It is possible you might find mold growing on the surface of the sauerkraut, but don’t panic! Mold typically forms only when the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or if it’s too hot in your kitchen. The sauerkraut is still fine (it’s still preserved by the lactic acid) — you can scoop off the mold and proceed with fermentation.
This said, it’s still important to use your best judgement when fermenting. If something smells or tastes moldy or unappetizing, trust your senses and toss the batch.
Want to learn more about sauerkraut and wild fermentation?
I have been making fermented food and drinks for years, and have always been inspired by how easy, healthy and delicious the results can be. Discovering the world of wild fermentation is an exciting journey to embark upon...
Here are a few resources I turn to:
- Wild Fermentation - Sandor Ellix Katz– This is a great all-around resource on fermentation in general, fermentation problem-solving, and fermentation health benefits. If there is a guru for fermentation, Sandor Katz is the man. He has inspired me and thousands of more people around the world on a wild fermentation adventure.
- Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen developed the ultimate fermentation bible. This is a must have book if your are serious in learning more about fermentation.
- Cultures for Health – This is an online resource for fermentation cultures and equipment, but I also turn to them for a lot of information on fermenting. They just released a free e-book on lacto-fermentation that is available if you sign up for their newsletter.
Discover more of my fermentation recipes
Trust your gut - follow your instincts