There are many nutritional benefits hidden in sauerkraut fermented with red cabbage. Just like in pigment-rich blueberries, the compounds that give red cabbage its distinctive dark color act as antioxidants. Red cabbage has one of the highest levels of naturally available vitamin C, more even than oranges. And of course, this sauerkraut is rich in various strains of beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics + antioxidants + vitamin C make this sauerkraut a triple winner.
This recipe also includes beets which are an amazing source of minerals and unique health-boosting nutrients.
These grungy-looking roots are sweet, impart a beautiful ruby-red color to your sauerkraut, and pack tons of flavor underneath their rugged exterior. The plant pigment that gives beets its rich, purple-crimson color is betacyanin; a powerful agent thought to suppress the development of some types of cancer. In addition, they are a wonderful tonic for the liver, working to purify the blood.
Note: If this is your first time to make sauerkraut, you may want to read over my teaching recipe: How to Make Sauerkraut In a Jar in 7 Simple Steps [Healthy, Flavorful, Easy], with its step-by-step photography, tips, and additional fermentation information first, then return to this recipe.
Notes and Tips to Get You Started on Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut
Beets have the Highest Sugar Content of All Vegetables
This is not a bad thing, just be aware that if you add too many beets to your sauerkraut, the sugar content of your ferment is such that it may turn into a sweet slime.
When adding the grated beets to the scale, I keep an eye on the weight and try to keep it under 25% of the total weight for the recipe. For a 1-quart (liter) batch this would be 7 ounces (200 grams). This should prevent the development of a slimy ferment.
Beets can be Tough to Grate
I always peel them first – to get rid of the “dirt” taste – and if I’m making an extra-large batch of sauerkraut, I pull out my food processor. Otherwise, use your hand grater, and glove, if you don’t want a red hand for a day or two.
Remove the red stain from your hands.
If your hands become stained with beetroot, rub with lemon juice and salt before washing with soap and water.
Fermenting with Fruit
When I add fruit to a ferment, I shorten the fermentation time. In this recipe, the extra sugar from the apple gives the bacteria extra sugar to consume, and if left to ferment for too long, your ferment can shift toward the alcohol side.
Small “Jelly” Canning Jar
My sauerkraut recipes call for a small 4-ounce (125 ml) “Jelly” canning jar which is used as a weight to hold the fermenting sauerkraut below the brine. For other ideas on what to use as a weight see:
Browning of Your Ferment
You may notice – if conditions aren’t optimal – that the top inch or so of your sauerkraut loses its color and turns a bit brown. This is oxidation and it can occur during fermentation or if stored for too long in your refrigerator.
It is especially prevalent when fermenting with beets or red cabbage. Just scoop off the browned section and enjoy the goodness below. And, try to eat sauerkraut containing beets within 5-6 months of fermentation.
3 Mouthwatering Ways to Enjoy Your Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut Recipe
1. Straight Out of the Jar
Don’t complicate matters. Just add a forkful or two of Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauekrauat to whatever meal you’re having. Simple!
2. Tossed into a Salad
My lunch generally is one humungous salad that always includes a shot of sauerkraut. Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut would be nice mixed with lettuce, a fresh apple, and perhaps a few raisins. No need to make a fancy dressing. Just use the brine from what accompanies the sauerkraut, add a glug or two of olive oil, and sprinkle on a pinch of salt.
3. Blended into a Green Smoothie
If you make green smoothies, a few forkfuls of Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage sauerkraut would be a powerful probiotic, antioxidant, and mineral-rich addition.
Howe to Ferment a Big Batch of Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut
If you find that you love Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut, it’s easy to make a big batch. Sauerkraut fermented in the large, temperature-stable environment of a water-sealed fermentation crock tends to have not only more brine but also a greater depth of flavor.
Quantities for this sauerkraut recipe can easily be adjusted. It’s best to make – and pack your fermenting crock with – successive 5-pound batches (triple the ingredients of a 1-quart batch) until your crock is about 80% full. Follow How to Make Sauerkraut In a Crock in 7 Simple Steps [Healthy, Flavorful, Easy] for all the tips and tricks to ensure mouthwatering success.
Ruby-Red Red-Cabbage Sauerkraut Recipe
FERMENTATION LENGTH: 1-3 weeks
There are many nutritional benefits hidden in red-cabbage sauerkraut. Just like in pigment-rich blueberries, the compounds that give red cabbage its distinctive dark color act as antioxidants. And, red cabbage has one of the highest levels of naturally available vitamin C, more even than oranges.
You Will Need
- 1 medium beet, peeled and grated baseball size
- 1 tart apple, peeled and finely diced
- 1 2-inch (5 cm) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
- 1 medium head fresh red cabbage 2–3 pounds (1 kg)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt fine-grain, iodine-free
- Kitchen scale
- Cutting board and chef’s knife
- Large mixing bowl
- Quart (liter) wide-mouth canning jar
- 4 ounce (125 ml) “jelly” canning jar or other fermentation "weight"
- Wide-mouth plastic storage cap (or airlock lid of your choosing) You can also use the lid and rim that comes with the jar
1. SET UP. Gather Supplies and Set Up Scale
In all my recipes, I have you use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. Doing so really does make your life easier and your success almost guaranteed, because you add just the right amount of salt.
Place your bowl on the scale. Either zero out the scale or write down the tare of your bowl.
2. CHOP. Prep Your Vegetables and Cabbage
Now that you have everything you need on hand and your scale is ready for weighing, it’s time to prepare those vegetables for fermentation.
Prep your beet, apple, and ginger and place in your bowl.
Set aside a clean cabbage leaf for use in step 5. Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and slice into thin strips until close to the core, tossing the core. See my post on ways to slice cabbage for some more tips.
Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the flavoring ingredients and cabbage is 1¾ pounds (28 oz or 800 g).
3. SALT. Create Your Brine
This is the stage where you create the brine in which your sauerkraut will ferment. Believe it or not, that big bowl of sliced cabbage really will fit into your jar.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt—that’s 16 grams (or 2%) by weight. Thoroughly mix beets, ginger, apple, and cabbage until salt is well dispersed.
Let sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes to allow the salt to pull the water out of the vegetables. Then massage the cabbage with strong hands until it clumps together and a puddle of brine can be seen when tipping bowl to the side. If you're having trouble getting enough brine, read the tips in my post on dry sauerkraut.
4. PACK. Pack Mixture into Jar
Your big bowl of cabbage, beets, and apple has now shrunk to a manageable, moist mass. The brine that was created will keep your sauerkraut safe from harmful bacteria while it is fermenting. It’s time to pack the cabbage mixture into your jar.
Pack mixture into your jar, pressing cabbage down tightly with your fist to allow the brine to rise. Leave 1½–2 inches (4–5 cm) of space between the top of your cabbage and the top of the jar.
5. SUBMERGE. Hold Ferment Below Brine
Now that your jar has been packed with that beautiful cabbage mixture, you need to make sure it remains submerged in the brine throughout fermentation, safe from harm.
Take the cabbage leaf saved in step 2, tear it to just fit inside the jar, and place it on top of the packed mixture.
Using your preferred weight to hold the mixture below the brine, screw on lid or air lock lid of choice, following product directions.
Label your jar with date and flavor.
STEP 6: FERMENT. Ferment for 2 to 4 Weeks
Now sit back and relax as the friendly bacteria eat the sugars in the cabbage and carrots, multiply, and release copious amounts of lactic acid, which creates an environment inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria, acts as a natural preservative for your ferment, and gives your sauerkraut that familiar tang.
Place in a shallow bowl on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight—ideally between 65 and 72 °F (18–22 °C)—to ferment until texture and tang is to your liking.
For what to expect while your batch of sauerkraut is fermenting see: SALTY Cabbage to SOUR Sauerkraut: Fermentation Signs to Monitor
7. STORE. Store in Refrigerator for Up to 6 Months
After your sauerkraut has fermented to your liking, it’s time to move it to cold storage until you are ready to effortlessly add its probiotic-rich flavors to your meals.
Open the jar, remove the weight, and clean rim and jar.
Firmly screw on storage lid.
Add fermentation time to your label and place in your refrigerator.
Enjoy a forkful or two of your sauerkraut with your meals. It will continue to ferment – aging like a fine wine – but at a much slower rate than before. If the flavors are too intense, leave it the jar for a month or two and then eat it. You will be amazed at how the flavors have shifted. See 19+ Easy Ways to Eat Sauerkraut for more ideas on how to enjoy your homemade jar of powerful probiotics.
If successfully fermented, your sauerkraut can be kept preserved in your refrigerator for up to a year... at least!
Beets are so concentrated, nutritionally speaking, that many natural vitamins are derived from them. Dr. Bruce West recommends eating a few spoonfuls of beets per day as a sure method of ingesting adequate vitamins and minerals on a regular basis and as a way of detoxifying the body as well. They contain special properties that protect the liver and stimulate the flow of bile. Beets and beet juice have been used successfully in cancer therapies. —Sally Fallon Morell, Nourishing Traditions