Sauerkraut Watermelon and Berry Cooler
Even the pickiest of eaters won’t notice the kraut in this cool, refreshing drink. It’s completely masked behind the sweet combination of watermelon and strawberries. Surprise your kids with a special treat on a hot summer day by using this mixture to make frozen ice pops that are secretly full of fermented goodness. Or serve it up to your adult friends with a shot of vodka for a refreshing summer kraut-tail!
Yield 2x475ml servings
600g cubed seedless watermelon, chilled
290g fresh strawberries, hulled
71g sauerkraut (see recipe, below)
1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
In a blender, combine the watermelon, strawberries, sauerkraut, and mint. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Feel free to experiment with other combinations of melon and berries – cantaloupe (640g) and raspberry (250g) are also delicious.
Not only is sauerkraut delicious, it’s also a bountiful source of nutrients. Rich in vitamins and probiotic bacteria, it’s a surprisingly healthful dish. The fermentation process helps make the nutrients more readily available to the body. The cabbage is rich in fibre and, along with the good bacteria, it can help improve digestion. This recipe is low in calories and satisfying, too.
Equipment you’ll need
Large knife, mandoline, or food processor with fine slicing disk
1×1.9-litre glass wide-mouth canning jar (or two 950ml jars)
Canning funnel (optional)
Smaller jar to use as a weight
Cheesecloth or cotton fabric square
Rubber band or string
1 medium head of green cabbage (about 1.4kg)
1½ tbsp (23g) sea salt
Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons using a knife, mandoline, or slicing disk in your food processor.
Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top. Work the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first, it may not seem like enough salt, but gradually, the cabbage will become watery and limp – more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5-10 minutes.
Take handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, this will make the job easier. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist or a pounder. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar. If you like, place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
Once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, fill the smaller jelly jar with water and cover with a lid (to create weight). Slip it into the mouth of the larger jar. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
Cover the mouth of the larger canning jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or string. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.
Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact, and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage. If after 24 hours the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 tsp salt in 235ml water and add enough of this mixture to submerge the cabbage.
Ferment the cabbage for 3-10 days. As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature – ideally, 21°C. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid. Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches.
Start tasting it after 3 days. When the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. The sauerkraut can continue fermenting for 10 days or longer. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when is “done” – go by how it tastes.
While it’s fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mould, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat the mouldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
Store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator for several months. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut into smaller containers for storage.
Extracted from Fermented Foods at Every Meal by Hayley Barisa Ryczek (Fair Winds Press, approx €17), out June 30.