Research has shown that maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is not only crucial for proper digestion, but also plays an important role in modulating immunity & inflammation, and preventing chronic disease. Eating probiotic-rich lacto-fermented veggies is a simple and flavorful way to promote a healthy gut flora.
Probiotics balance the gut microbiome, inhibit pathogenic bacteria that cause digestive issues, and help to lessen the negative health effects of environmental pollutants and other toxins that are present in food.
The addition of dill (Anethum graveolens) seeds further boots this kraut’s benefits for digestion, as they have carminative, stomachic, and digestive effects. Which means that they help to relieve gas & bloating and to help boost the digestive process.
This brightly colored kraut is one of our favorites. We usually eat it with breakfast as it pairs nicely with fried eggs, but it also would be great on sandwiches or brats.
To make dill kraut, you will need:
- 8 cups finely chopped red cabbage (approximately one small cabbage)
- 1 cup diced red onion (approximately half of a large onion)
- 1 cup chopped carrot (approximately 2 medium carrots)
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp dill seed
Add chopped veggies to a large bowl. Scrunch the salt and the cabbage together with your hands until the salt is worked through it. This step helps break down the cell walls of the cabbage so that it will begin to release its juices. Let the bruised cabbage sit for about 5 minutes or so. Then add the dill seed and mix some more.
Pack the veggies tightly into a jar, using a large wooden spoon to push everything down.
Add a heaping tsp of salt to a 1/2 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve the salt. Then pour this brine over the veggies in the jar so that everything is fully submerged. Add a fermentation weights to help keep the veggies underneath the brine. If you don’t have one, a smaller jar filled with water works fine.
Take a square of cheese cloth or breathable fabric and secure it to the top of the jar with elastic. This will allow air flow, but keep out flies.
Keeping everything under the brine will help prevent growth of molds on the surface of the ferment. If the top layer of cabbage dries out or becomes discolored, scrape it off and compost it before enjoying your sauerkraut. You may need to add to add more water if it evaporates (especially in dry climates or a heated home) leaving the cabbage exposed.
Discoloration on the surface of the sauerkraut can be caused by oxidation, mold, or yeast. Any growth or discoloration should be removed. To do so, remove the weight from the top of the ferment and gently scoop under the growth with a stainless steel spoon to remove as much as you can.
In his book, The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz says, “As long as the mold is white it is not harmful. If other color molds start to grow, do not eat them. Bright colors often indicate sporulation, the mold’s reproductive stage. To prevent spreading the spores, gently lift the entire mold mass from your ferment” (Katz).
You should remove any surface growths as soon as you notice them, as the longer a mold grows on the surface, the deeper it will penetrate. Molds can digest lactic acid, which will lower the acidity of the ferment and alter it’s ability to be preserved. They can also digest pectin, which will leave the cabbage mushy. After the mold is removed from your kraut, check the veggies underneath it and compost any that appear to have been affected.
Store your sauerkraut in a cool, dark place. Warmer temperatures will increase the rate of fermentation. There is no set time frame for when it will be “ready.” You will have to decide for yourself when you would like to enjoy it. Try it at 2 weeks and then continue tasting it regularly. You can enjoy your kraut as it continues to ferment.
Katz says, “I believe it makes sense to eat fermenting vegetables at intervals throughout their process, as a way of diversifying our bacterial exposure” (Katz).
Whenever you feel that your sauerkraut has reached the flavor you desire, move it to the refrigerator to slow fermentation significantly.
Sandor, K. (2012) The Art of Fermentation.
Średnicka, P., Juszczuk-Kubiak, E., Wójcicki, M., Akimowicz, M., & Roszko, M. Ł. (2021). Probiotics as a biological detoxification tool of food chemical contamination: A review. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 153, 112306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2021.112306