Fermentation, Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Fermentation, Sauerkraut and Kimchi

While we are all spending more time thinking about ways to improve our health, we have been making our own Sauerkraut and Kimchi. Exploring and experimenting with different methods of fermentation. Ligita, our cook at MoaAlm Mountain Retreat wanted to share her recipes and why it's always been part of her daily diet.

"Since a young age I have been fed fermented vegetables. In Lithuania, where I’m from, the winters are long and apart from some potatoes, beetroot and cabbage we were very limited with fresh veg. My grandmother and mother always knew the power of fermented vegetables as it eats the bad bacteria and produces probiotics which are so important for your immune system.

Sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, used to always be on our dinner table.  

Lacto-fermentation is the process that produces traditional dill pickles, kimchi, and real sauerkraut, among other fermented delights. This simple fermentation process requires nothing more than salt, vegetables, and water—no canning, no fancy equipment.

The lacto fermentation process works because of the lucky fact that bacteria that could be harmful to us can't tolerate much salt, while healthy bacteria (think yogurt) can.

Lactobacillus bacteria convert sugars naturally present in fruit or vegetables into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that helps fight bad bacteria and preserves not only the flavour and texture of food but also its nutrients. 

The benefits of eating food with live Lactobacillus bacteria include a healthier digestive system and speedy recovery from yeast infections. They are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in preventing certain kinds of cancer.

Kimchi, which is spicy fermented cabbage, is made by lacto fermentation, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill pickles. 

A single serving of sauerkraut has 35% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and increases cellular regeneration and repair.

The minerals found in sauerkraut make it ideal for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. [19] The high level of vitamin K2 is important for maintaining the integrity and strength of your bones, as vitamin K produces the proteins that regulate bone mineralization.

Iron, in sauerkraut, helps boost energy as it increases the metabolism and blood circulation, which increases oxygenation of organs.

Sauerkraut is also rich in fiber, which aids in regular and smooth bowel movements. This helps in eliminating constipation, bloating, cramping, and excessive gas along the way. By regulating the digestive system, it can also prevent serious conditions like gastric ulcers, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and even colon cancer."

So why not make a few batches of fermented cabbage and help boost your immune system. Today we want to share a traditional simple sauerkraut recipe and a spicy kimchi.

Fermentation spicy Kimchi
Spicy Kimchi
Fermented Spicy  Kimchi:

• 2 cabbage heads, we used one white and one Savoie Cabbage

• ½ cup of salt

• 12 garlic cloves

• 2 inches of grated fresh ginger

• 3tsp of brown sugar

• 2tbsp of soy sauce

• 4tbsp chilli sauce, we use Siracha spicy sauce

• 2 tsp of chilli flakes

• 4tsp of dried seaweed (optional)

• 1tsp of fresh horseradish, grated

• 1 cup spring onion, cut

First, cut both of the cabbages, mix them with ½ cup of salt and slowly massage it for 5-10 minutes. You want the cabbage to be soft and juicy. Salt does the magic here, it reduces the volume and softens the raw cabbage.

Then add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.

Rinse the cabbage with cold water and let it drain for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a chilli paste. Add the rest of ingredients in the food processor or blender and mix it well until the paste consistency. 

Then, combine cabbage and chilli paste, massage it again a little bit and put it into a sterilised jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the cabbage, leaving at least 1 cm of space at the top. Seal the jar.

Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and some of the brine may seep out of the lid.

Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the kimchi once a day, opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or a wooden spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. Also taste a little at this point. When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it's best after another week or even two.

red cabbage sauerkraut
Red cabbage Sauerkraut

• 1 medium red cabbage

• 2tbsp salt

• 2tbsp of caraway seeds

Cut or shred cabbage, then sprinkle with salt.

Massage the cabbage with clean hands for about 10 minutes, until there is enough liquid to cover. Add the caraway seeds and mix it well.

Stuff the cabbage into a quart jar, pressing the cabbage underneath the liquid. If necessary, add a bit of water to completely cover cabbage.

Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.

Culture at room temperature for at least 2 weeks until desired flavour and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, open daily to release excess pressure. Keep it in the dark room or away from direct sunlight.

Once the sauerkraut is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The sauerkraut's flavour will continue to develop as it ages.

Fermentation red cabbage sauerkraut

We add Kimchi and Sauerkraut to our our breakfast table for guests in Austria to taste in the morning time and add to their savoury plate of treats. We also use warm Sauerkraut as an accompaniment to plant based main course.

If you make our Sauerkraut or Kimchi recipe, we would love you to tag your photos with #relaxinglyactive on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! For other dietary inspiration,  maybe consider checking out the blog that we wrote on our attempts to Detox at the start of the Covid 19 Lockdown in Austria.