Simple Sauerkraut

No doubt you’ve all heard by now how good fermented foods are for you, for your gut health, which science is now discovering plays an incredibly significant role in your overall health and wellbeing.
Looking into the types of fermented foods that are espoused by Those In The Know, I considered sauerkraut to be the easiest one to attempt myself (besides natural yoghurt… which I already make… But my sourdough bread attempts haven’t been ultra successful) :/
So, Googling in my usual style, I discovered the basic elements for homemade sauerkraut. And they are cabbage and salt. Yep, that’s all folks. Of course you can add things in for variety and taste – like other veggies, herbs and spices, even extra probiotic cultures – but on the whole I usually stick with the basics.
It’s ridiculously easy. The hardest part is waiting for it to become edible: waiting out the fermentation period.Food Fervour

You can buy special equipment for the process (this can ensure better success) but I literally began with a 1 litre glass jar. An ex-coconut oil jar (pictured right). No frills whosoever. (Except that it had to have a mouth that I could fit my hand into; that’s imperative …you’ll see why.) Food FervourIf, however, you end up liking and wanting to continue production after your first test batch, I’d highly recommend at the very least purchasing a jar with a proper rubber seal, such as the one pictured left.

Food FervourLuckily for me, a very inventive friend made a couple of purpose-built jars (equipped with beer brewing parts that allow oxygen to escape but not enter, for a more sterile environment) and gave them to me (pic right) so I can make ‘kraut til the cows come home 😛

For a 1 litre container you’ll need 1kg of cabbage (about half of a large head) and 1 tablespoon of salt (I opt for Celtic sea or Himalayan for the higher trace mineral content). When I remember, I pop a bay leaf in too. Note: if you’re trying this for the first time and fear failure (don’t worry, I often do too) simply halve the amounts and the jar size. That way there’ll be less to throw out if (1) it fails or (2) you decide you don’t like it!

Step One: Peel off some of the outer leaves of the cabbage and set them aside… don’t discard, we’ll be needing them later.

Step Two: Simply shred the cabbage and place into a very large bowl. You can finely chop with a large knife on a large chopping board, in batches. Or using a food processor if preferred, and also in batches (I have done it in my Thermomix, smaller batches, a few seconds on Speed 4-5)

Food Fervour

Yes, ALL of this does eventually fit in that jar…and easily!

Step Three: Add the salt (*and any other herbs or spices you’d like to include) and now you gotta git yer hands dirty! So make sure they’re clean. You need to get both hands into the bowl and massage the salt though the cabbage (et al). Really squeeze it, crush the life out of it! Food FervourThis is important to release the fluids (predominantly water) in the vegetable so that – combined with the salt you added – a brine can manifest. Give it a good couple of minutes… the longer, the better.

Step Four: Let it rest. Wash your hands, set the timer for 15 minutes and go have a cuppa or something. The magic happens here: the salt continues to draw the fluid from the cabbage, increasing the amount of all-important brine.

Step Five: Grab your jar and (with clean hands of course) begin stuffing the cabbage mixture in. Take a break when you think it’s lookin’ kinda full and start squashing the cabbage down to the bottom of the jar. As hard as you can. You are squeezing out as much air as possible and you’ll probably notice all of a sudden the brine is coming to the top. Food FervourYeah! Keep going! Chuck more of that stuff in and keep pressing it down. Eventually you’ll reach the end and you should be lucky enough to have all of the mixture well below the level of brine.

 

Step Six: Those spare outer cabbage leaves you kept at the start? This is where they come in. Choose one and push it in, down below the brine, as level as you can, across the top of your original ‘kraut mixture. Again, you’re trying to get as much of the air out from underneath that baby as possible. Food FervourI often do it with a couple of pieces to make well-and-sure that my mix is well under the waterline. When you’re satisfied, tightly cap the jar. (Professional home-sauerkraut makers buy special weights to ensure the sheltering cabbage leaf stays down but… I’ve never felt the need…)

Step Seven: Date your creation (I pop little stickers on the lid, see pic below) and store for at least one week, maximum two, in a cool dark place (the back of the pantry is ideal). Food FervourAfter one or two ‘explosive’ experiences (not really as scary as it sounds, just pressure build-up..) I decided to sit the jar in a little bowl just in case there’s a Great Brine Escape (leakage).

When you’re ready to open it, discard the top cabbage leaves (and the excess brine if you like) and keep refrigerated. I’ve had opened jars in the fridge for up to 4 months!

Now I must stress this is not the most hygienic way to make sauerkraut (as I said, there is proper equipment available out there in the marketplace) but of all the batches I’ve made (I’d guess nearly a dozen?) in the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had one batch that failed. And I knew it simply because it just didn’t smell right. Trust your nose, People. Science tells us there is no better apparatus to recognise bad food, than our own noses.

If you’re wondering whose sauerkraut recipe inspired me, take a look at The Healthy Chef (Teresa Cutter)’s Polish Sauerkraut. If you’re not exactly sure what to do with your sauerkraut once it’s ready open, check out some of the meals I’ve used it in:

https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/

https://foodfervour.com/2016/01/18/an-eclectic-rainbow-salad/

https://foodfervour.com/2014/12/11/asparagus-sprouted-lentils-with-avocado-sauerkraut-mash/

 

 

 

 

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Cauliflower Pizza Bases

Food FervourI was skeptical about this notion when I first heard of it. Could cauliflower really imitate a dough base and hold together under the weight of all those toppings? I had to try for myself. And I was completely surprised (and smitten) when I made my first one. Now I can’t look back. Whilst they’re neither a thin crunchy base, nor a thick chewy, doughy one, they do manage to hold together well enough to support all your toppings (and I usually pile on way more than you’d get in your typical takeaway pizza). They are…. amazeballs.

Why opt for cauliflower over grain-dough bases? My primary reason is because it’s a vegetable. Whilst I prefer not to demonise foods, I would choose a vegetable over a grain in this case purely for its nutritional content. In general veggies provide more nutrient density and variety. And then there’s the fact that cauliflower’s pretty much starch (complex carbohydrate) -free compared to dough, which matters if you are ‘watching your weight’. Finally, there’s the gluten issue: this is perfect for coeliacs or the gluten intolerant.

Food Fervour

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley features in this cauliflower pizza base

And best of all, you only need – at the very least – TWO ingredients: cauliflower and eggs. Many cauliflower pizza base recipes will include more than two, but they really are optional: the vegetable and eggs on their own will work just fine …but it is fun to play around with add-ins. I’ve experimented with a few of the following: obviously salt & pepper, but also chopped/dried herbs, grated cheese, tomato paste and I just LOVE nutritional yeast flakes (idea borrowed from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food).

It’s such a simple procedure, however the success of your base will be largely determined during one specific step. Here’s the method, based on 500gm cauliflower and 2 eggs:

Pre-heat Oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

Steam Cauliflower florets:

Manually: In a medium/large saucepan, bring add approx 2-3cm of water to the boil over high heat (cover with the lid to expediate this or better still, add boiling water from a freshly boiled electric jug to a large saucepan on the stovetop, on high heat). Add the florets, drop the heat back to simmer and keep the lid on the saucepan. Your cauliflower should cook in 4-5 minutes (check softness with a utensil). Thermomixers: Add 500gm of water to bowl then place cauliflower florets in basket. Programme 14 minutes, Varoma, speed 1-1.5.

Remove Excess fluid from the Cauliflower (this is the crucial step):

Allow cauliflower to cool (you can rinse under cold water to expediate this). Drain all excess water from the florets then roughly chop or mash the cauliflower (in the same saucepan …to save on dish-washing). Thermomixers can simply chop at Speed 5 or Turbo for a few seconds). Empty it all into the centre of a clean cotton tea towel, then, pulling the sides up, begin to squeeze out as much excess water as possible …into the sink for drainage (or over a bowl if you like to conserve your veggie water). The volume of cauliflower will pretty much halve in size. The more fluid you extract, the firmer your pizza base will be.

The Ingredient Mix:

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Tomato (paste) pizza base spread with fresh basil pesto, ready for toppings…

Manually: Return the mashed cauliflower to a bowl (scraping the veggie fibre from the tea towel – waste not, want not!) add the eggs and whatever else you’d like to add to the base, and mix thoroughly. Thermomixers: pop it all into the bowl and blend up to Speed 5 for about 10 seconds (you may want to scrape down the bowl down in between?)

Shape & Cook:

Tip the mixture into the centre of the paper-lined tray, and use a spatula to shape your pizza base. Aim for about ½-cm in thickness.

Pop into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, earmarking to turn the base over at about the halfway mark if possible.

Toppings:

Use the 20 minutes base cooking time to prepare your toppings. I’ll often fry up some mushrooms, preservative free bacon, capsicum and/or zucchini… I’ll boil the electric jug again and blanche some asparagus or broccoli… or make some basil pesto to use as the pizza base spread. You can grate your cheese now as well, so that you’re one hundred percent ready to dress the base.

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Leftover lunch slice of bacon & mushroom pizza

Once the base is done, and your toppings are spread, pop the pizza back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. It goes without saying, you need to serve immediately …but I have successfully refrigerated uneaten portions to enjoy for lunch the next day, just as you might do with a commercial pizza.

These really are the Bomb! If you are in the Gold Coast region, you can book a FoodPT with me to watch me demonstrate this procedure (it’s one of my most popular classes) and you get to eat the results. Find my contact details on the ‘Menu’ Page.

 

Turmeric & Cumin Mushrooms

Food Fervour

These mushies are so addictive that I’ll eat them with my dinner as well as breakfast!

I have this ‘thing’ with turmeric: it’s so ridiculously good for you (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, anti-almost-every-disease-under-the-sun) that I’ve become quite motivated to find ways to get more of the stuff into me… without a huge deal of effort! In order to avoid cooking up a huge Indian curry every time I feel the ‘need’ for some, I started grating the bulb directly into and onto different foods.

Food Fervour

I originally liked grating turmeric over eggs

I find it quite enjoyable with egg, whether grated directly over poached or boiled, or added to a scramble or omelette mix. But one morning recently, whilst frying up some mushrooms to eat with some scramble, it dawned on me to try pairing them up with the turmeric instead. Since I usually always cook with coconut oil, and I tend to relate turmeric to Indian cuisine, I decided to try adding cumin as a balancing flavour.

Well, dang! I was blown away. Now maybe it’s just me, but the fact that I cooked and ate them twice in a space of 36 hours suggests that I was hooked!

It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. For a single serve you’ll need about a cup of roughly chopped button mushrooms, coconut oil, turmeric & cumin (fresh is best, but powdered will still do). Oh, and some (Celtic or Himalayan) salt to taste…

Whack a couple of tablespoons of the oil in a frypan over medium heat, then add about a teaspoon of each spice (more if you wish – especially the super-cool super-spice turmeric). Stir it up for a minute then throw in your mushies. Keep the coconut oil beside you, since they suck up the fat like there’s no tomorrow so you’ll more than likely need to add a bit more along the way. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, adding a good dash of Celtic or Himalayan salt to taste, and serve immediately, scraping as much of the flavour from the pan onto your plate as possible, too! Deeeelicious 😀