Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut (Cortido/Curtido)

So what do you know about sauerkraut?  Well, up until a few weeks ago, sauerkraut really wasn't on my radar.  I grew up eating the stuff, but my husband and kiddos don't really care for it. (understatement)  But recently I've been reading more about the health benefits of eating lacto-fermented foods and thought I'd just have to give if a second look.

Just in case you didn't know, sauerkraut (although I naively thought it was a German concoction) was actually eaten by Roman soldiers, Chinese builders of the Great Wall, and many a sailor to prevent scurvy.  It has become known as a super-food, being credited with boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, detoxifying the body, aiding digestion, and curing colds and flu. 

Because of all the health benefits, I thought I'd give a homemade version a try.  I like a little zing in my food so when I saw this recipe had red pepper flakes in it, it just spoke to me.  Of course, if you don't like zingy food you can leave them out or if you are really zingy, add more.

Also, because you are making it at home, you stop the fermentation process virtually at any time by placing it in the refrigerator.  In my cool house, it takes about 7 days before my batch of cortido is ready to eat.  At this point, it is still a little bit crisp, which I like.  And because it hasn't had the living daylights cooked out of it, it is chock-full of wonderful vitamins and enzymes.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

A Latin American Sauerkraut from Nourishing Traditionsby Sally Fallon
  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)
  1. In a large non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic) mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt and whey.
  2. Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices.
  3. Place in 2 quart-sized, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly with the pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.
  4. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.



  1. how long does this keep? Can you can in to keep it for shelf storage for later use? Sounds interesting!

    1. As long as you store your fermented product in a cool place that has a temp around 40 degrees (i.e. root cellar, refrigerator) it will keep for many months. How many that is, I don't know. Sally Fallon, author of "Nourishing Traditions" states that experts believe that sauerkraut needs at least six months to fully mature! Because I normally make my sauerkraut/cortido in relatively small batches, ours is normally eaten within 2 months. Hope that helps!