Sauerkraut juice is a raw, fermented veggie drink that is rich in the same live good microbes found in sauerkraut, only in much higher concentrations.
Sauerkraut juice takes cabbage juice to a whole new level of health with the added benefits of probiotic-like microbes, added enzymes, and bioavailable disease-fighting compounds. It’s the homemade version of a Farmhouse Culture Gut Shot for a fraction of the cost while giving you more control over ingredients, flavour, and quality.
Fermented cabbage juice
Sauerkraut juice, cabbage kvass, and juice from sauerkraut are fairly similar ferment cabbage drinks, yet differ slightly in the ingredients and the process. All require the same 10-12 weeks of fermentation to ensure the process is complete.
This has the highest ratio of liquid to solids compared of all three. It applies a brine-pickling technique that requires cabbage be processed to a mealy consistency (do not liquify) in a food processor, then gently packed into an Airlock Fermenter, and covered with a premade brine.
After that the cabbage pulp is strained, the liquid brine is bottled, and consumed as a gut shot that packs a solid punch of microbes, gut-healing nutrients, and hormone-balancing and cancer-fighting compounds.
This also uses the same brine-pickling technique, though instead of juicing the cabbage or processing it into a mealy consistency, cabbage is finely sliced or shredded, transferred to an Airlock Fermenter, then submerged under a premade brine.
Cabbage pieces and any additional ingredients float freely. This fermented cabbage drink has a higher liquid to cabbage ratio than sauerkraut, reducing its storage duration slightly. It uses a similar process as beet kvass with flavour enhancements from added onions, garlic, whole spices, etc. The taste is somewhat weaker than sauerkraut juice, though still valuable to health.
Juice from sauerkraut
On the other hand, juice from sauerkraut uses a different process. Sauerkraut uses a self-brining technique, meaning brine that develops and eventually submerges the cabbage shreds comes entirely from within the cabbage. Rarely is brine added.
Cabbage is finely shredded, then packed tightly into an Airlock Fermenter. It stores the longest of the three cabbage drinks – one year if left unopened in an Airlock Fermenter – because it has the highest ratio of cabbage fibre to liquid.
Nutrients within cell walls are slowly released into the juice to keep lactic acid bacteria alive for a year. The downside to relying on sauerkraut as a source of sauerkraut juice is that the liquid is relatively low compared to the solid shreds. It’s better worth your time and effort to make sauerkraut juice if the juice is what you want.
Each of these forms of fermented cabbage juice are valuable to maintaining health, but sauerkraut juice is the most concentrated form of all the goodness fermented cabbage has to offer. So let’s dive in to the recipe.
How to make sauerkraut juice
1. You’ll want to start by making a 2% brine by dissolving salt in water. Set this aside to let it cool. (Refer to recipe below for full details.)
2. Take a cabbage; remove outer layers and the core as you would for sauerkraut.
3. Slice the cabbage head into 1/2″ strips. This makes it easier on your food processor and ensures a finer, more even grind. Add it to your food processor. Process in 3-4 batches, dumping each mealy batch into a large bowl.
4. Add any additional vegetables, like onions, and pulse. Once all the cabbage is processed and collected in a larger bowl, mix in any whole spices you like. The total weight of all ingredients should be 3 pounds.
5. Pack into a 3-Litre Airlock Fermenter. It should fill about half the jar. Add the cooled brine to the shoulder of the jar.
6. Insert airlock; clamp lid shut; store in a dark place for 4-7 days at room temperature. Once bubbles cease to surface, transfer to a fridge or cold room <12ºC for 10-12 weeks.
7. Once fermentation is finished, strain pulp through nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Discard pulp. Bottle the sauerkraut juice. Refrigerate and use within 1-2 months.
Don’t be afraid to try other flavour combinations. Farmstead Culture Gut Shot comes in Ginger Beet, Garlic Dill, Classic (caraway seed), and Golden Turmeric. Each use cabbage and salt as the basic ingredients and just adds other ingredients for flavouring.
Use your imagination to create a the most wonderful gut shot, and don’t forget to share it with friends and family. They need gut shots too.
Sauerkraut Juice Recipe
- Food Processor
- 3 lbs cabbage (about 1 small, dense head)
- 1500 mL non-chlorinated, filtered water
- 30 grams non-iodized sea salt
- 2 tsp whole caraway seeds
- Make a 2% brine: dissolve the salt in hot water; set aside to cool.
- Remove blemished or dirty outer leaves from cabbage; discard or compost. Rinse the cabbage head in non-chlorinated water. Cut cabbage in half, then cut the dense core from the middle (some people eat the core raw or cook with it; otherwise, compost it). Cut the remaining cabbage head in one-inch strips, lengthwise, to easily fit in your food processor with the “S” blade attachment. Process the cabbage as minimally as possilbe in two to three batches until it is finely ground yet not liquified. It should look mealy. For each batch, stop the food processor a couple of times to scrape down larger chunks of cabbage from the sides of the bowl to ensure even processing. Combine each batch of mealed cabbage into a large bowl.
- The combined weight of cabbage and any additional vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic, etc.) should total three pounds (1362 grams). Reduce the amount of cabbage if you plan to add onions for a cabbage-onion kraut juice or any other vegetables. Ensure all vegetables are ground to a fine pulp in a food processor, although do not liquify.
- Add any whole spice to the bowl of cabbage pulp. Mix to distribute. Pack the cabbage in a 3 L airlock jar. Use a stainless steel canning funnel for funnelling the pulp into the jar without a mess. Packed cabbage pulp should fill the jars about halfway. Slowly pour the cooled brine overtop, until it reaches the shoulder. Do not continue to add extra brine past the shoulder.
- Clean around the mouth of the jar with paper towel. Fasten the rubber gasket around the underside of the lid. Fill the 3-piece airlock with water to the fill line; insert the airlock and clamp lid shut.
- Store at room temperature, between 18-21ºC, out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days or until bubbles cease to surface. Transfer to cold storage (a fridge or cold room below 12ºC) with the airlock in place. Leave for 10-12 weeks – less time if stored in a cold room, more time in a fridge.
- Once fermentation is complete, pour the pulpy juice mixture in 1- to 2-cup batches through a nut-milk bag or alternative fine-knit mesh (old sheer curtains work well). Squeeze until pulp is dry and fibre remains. Compost the pulp. Transfer juice to a swing-top bottle to continue restricting oxygen; discard the fibre. Refrigerate and use within three months. Start with 1 ounce taken with meals and progress to ¼ cup at one sitting, as tolerated.