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Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut

Posted Dec 20 2012 10:35pm

Purple cabbage and orange sauerkraut is a wonderful fermented food to add in your diet on a regular basis. I enjoy eating healing fermented foods every day and it has really made a big difference in my health.

70 to 80% of our immune cells resides in our gut, so it is imperative that you do whatever you can to keep your digestive system healthy. Fermented foods help you accomplish this goal and their fantastic flavors are an added bonus!

I’ve been experimenting with different types of cabbage, herbs, and vegetables to add variety to my sauerkraut ferments. Purple cabbage creates a crunchy sauerkraut that has a beautiful deep pink color and tangy flavor that is so delicious!

Today’s recipe is the first time I tried adding citrus fruit to my sauerkraut ferment and the combination is truly a revelation! Adding an orange to the recipe brightens the earthiness of the cabbage and uplifts its flavor with fresh bursts of citrus flavor that is so refreshing.

When I make sauerkraut I also like making different brines to change the flavor of the ferment. The brine I used in this recipe is an appealing blend of whey, orange, celery, garlic, and Himalayan sea salt. If you like it hot and want a kick of spice you could also add a hot pepper to this ferment like a Serrano or jalapeño pepper.

If you’ve never made fermented foods, you are going to be fascinated seeing what happens when beneficial bacteria, sea salt, cabbage and time work together to create a living food.

I get so excited when I see my ferments being transformed by the lactobacilli bacteria. Fermentation is truly an amazing process to see in action. The Greeks explained the transformation of food that occurs with fermentation as “alchemy.”

Beneficial lactobacilli bacteria, sea salt, or probiotic cultured vegetable starter transforms cabbage and other vegetables or fruits into a nutrient-dense living food teaming with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics that helps strengthen and heal your digestive system.

Lactobacilli are naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria that are present on vegetables and fruits. This good bacteria is high in natural enzymes and are responsible for turning the starches and sugars in foods into lactic acid that preserves food and enhances its nutrients. This lactic acid bacteria also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in our intestines.

The key to a successful fermentation is keeping your vegetables or fruits submerged completely under the brine so bad bacteria won’t grow in your ferment. Fermentation is an anaerobic process so doing this is an absolute necessity. Two of the best ways to do this is to use either a   Pickl-It Jar or a Harsch crock . Both of these vessels are more expensive than mason jars so if you are just starting out you may want to try making your ferments with the mason jars and see how you like doing it before you invest in the more expensive options. I personally have been making ferments in mason jars for 4 years now and have not had any issues with bad batches. If you want to learn how to convert a inexpensive mason jar to an airtight container you can see how from Northwest Edible Life  in this post .

I wish you much success in your fermentation adventures!

If you want more information on the health benefits of eating fermented foods check out my post and .

Have you tried fermented foods yet? Please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.

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Makes 2-3 quarts

I medium head organic purple cabbage

2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt

1 large peeled orange-white pith removed

2 organic celery stalks-cut into pieces

1 peeled small garlic clove

1 cup purified water

⅓ cup organic whey

1 probiotic capsule-optional*

2 or 3 clean 1-quart mason jars with lids


1. Remove 4 outer leaves from cabbage, rinse, pat dry and set aside. Cut remaining cabbage into thin slices or shred with a food processor. Place cabbage into a strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. Drain and pat dry.

2. Place clean sliced cabbage into a large bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and massage with your clean hands until cabbage starts to wilt and release its liquid. Set aside while you make the orange brine.

3. Place peeled orange, celery, garlic clove, water and whey into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the brine over the sliced cabbage and add contents from probiotic capsule if using, mixing well with your hands until all the cabbage is covered with brine.

4. Place cabbage into the clean glass jars and pack down tightly with your hands until brine goes over the vegetables. Be sure to leave at least 2-inches of space at the top of each jar to allow the cabbage to expand.

5. Fold cabbage leaves and place on top of the sauerkraut in the jar pushing down on leaves to cover with brine. Repeat this for second and third jar. Doing this step will help keep your sauerkraut under the brine. You can also add a small clean glass that fits inside of the mason jar on top of cabbage to weigh it down. Make sure you have at least 1 or 2-inches of brine over the top of the sauerkraut and folded cabbage leaves.

6. Place jars of sauerkraut inside a cardboard box or ice chest to protect from light. Let sauerkraut ferment at room temperature for 10-14 days. Taste after 10 days and see if you like the flavor. If you do like the taste, place in the refrigerator. The longer you ferment the sauerkraut the more tangy and sour it gets. Once done fermenting place in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

7. Each time you remove sauerkraut to eat make sure you push the remaining sauerkraut under the brine to protect it.


*I added a probiotic capsule to my ferment to add additional strains of good bacteria to the sauerkraut. You can leave it out and just use salt and whey. 

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