My Friend Jo’s Special Sauerkraut

MAKES 2 QUART JARS • PREP TIME: 15 minutes • COOK TIME: Up to 10 days

I’ll admit it: I’m a ham. Take the last time I demonstrated how to make sauerkraut. The recipe is pretty basic: pulverize some cabbage, pour some salt over it in a crock, cover, and ferment. Not the most exciting of demos—unless you’ve got a friend, like my friend Jo, with a great sense of humor and knowledge of moi. I told her I needed a mallet for the demo; she lent me her mother’s mallet. It was about eighty years old and five feet tall, and was so big I had to get on top of a milk crate to wield it. It was chancy—the room was filled with three hundred health care professionals—but we all got a good laugh out of it. Hijinks aside, sauerkraut is easy to make—and it’s a great probiotic, leading to a sound gut, which, as scientists are learning, makes for a sound mind.

3 pounds cabbage, shredded
8 ounces carrots, peeled and shredded
3 tablespoons sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons coriander seed, gently crushed

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, salt, and coriander. Using your hands, crush the mixture together until it starts to release moisture, about 5 minutes. The liquid will begin to pool at the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the cabbage mixture into two new and clean 32-ounce mason jars, packing down the mixture with a spoon or your hand. Pressing it will bring the liquid to the top and release any air bubbles from the bottom. There should be about 1/2 inch of liquid over the cabbage. Cover with whole cabbage leaves and weigh down the mixture with a clean glass or cup filled with stones or pie weights.

Cover the jar with a linen, cotton, or cheese cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Set the jar in a bowl to catch any liquid that may overflow. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 days and up to 7 to 14, depending on the temperature. Taste each day until the tangy flavor is just right, then cover it with a lid and store it in the refrigerator.

COOK’S NOTES: If you use too little salt, the mixture will mold. Too much salt, and it will not ferment. My research shows about 13/4 teaspoons of sea salt per pound of cabbage is a good rule of thumb.

The mixture can ferment on the counter for up to 10 days. A cool room temperature of 64°F is ideal. If it’s warmer, check it more often than once a day. You may see bubbles, foam, or white froth on the surface, but these are all signs of normal fermentation. The white froth can be skimmed off as you see it or before refrigerating the sauerkraut.

STORAGE: Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.