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  • Preparation - 30 mins
  • Serves 10
  • Calories per serving - 19kcal

Neurons are the cells that make up your brain. But did you know that you don’t just have neurons in your head? There are more than 100 million of them in your gut! There are also lots of bacteria that live in your gut. You might have heard people talk about them as your “microbiome” or as “friendly bacteria”. The neurons in your gut are linked to the ones in your head and scientists have found that a healthy microbiome can help with brain function.

You can keep the bacteria happy by eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains but you can also eat foods which contain friendly bacteria. Yoghurt is one or it’s easy to make your own fermented pickles. They’re different from vinegar based pickles because they’re alive and the acid is produced by the bacteria themselves. This sauerkraut is a great introduction. It’s delicious on hotdogs, in sandwiches and on salads.


1. Wash a 1l jar with hot soapy water and rinse it well. Put it in an oven set to 100°C for 20 minutes. This helps kill any bad bacteria. Let it cool.

2. Quarter the cabbage and cut out the core. Slice the quarters as thinly as you can. Aim for 2mm strands.

3. Put a large mixing bowl on a scale and add the cabbage. Note its weight and calculate 2%. Add that amount of salt. Eg. If you have 800g cabbage, add 16g salt.

4. Toss the cabbage and salt so they are evenly combined and leave for 20 mins or so. The salt will start to soften the cabbage.

5. Massage the cabbage for a few minutes. It will soften and start to produce water. This will mix with the salt to make brine. This is good! Keep massaging until you have a little pool of brine at the bottom of the bowl.

6. If you like, add 1tbsp caraway seeds which are a really classic flavour combination for cabbage. Mix them through.

7. Put the cabbage and any brine in your jar. Really stuff it down! Unless your cabbage was a real whopper it should all fit.

8. It’s really important that all the bits of cabbage stay under the brine. You can buy glass “pickle pebbles” that weigh the vegetables down or just use a smaller jar, a cabbage leaf or a plastic sandwich bag filled with water. Put your weight on top of the cabbage and shut the jar if you can (if not, it’s fine).

9. Put the jar somewhere out of direct sunlight but where you’ll remember to check on it. After about a week, start tasting your sauerkraut. It will probably take about two weeks to be ready but this will depend on the temperature. It will get gradually tangier as time goes by. When it’s as sour as you want, move it to the fridge and eat with whatever you like.

  • 1 white cabbage
  • 20g (approx.) flakey sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of caraway seeds (optional)
About the author

Clare Heal is a journalist-turned-chef based in north London. She runs Sycamore Smyth, a one-woman catering company and cookery school, providing good food to people who don’t want to cook and cultivating kitchen confidence in those who do.

Check out Clare’s website or Instagram.