When I moved to Norway a few years back I was pleased to find I enjoyed Sukål. Sukål is the Norwegian word for saurkraut. It makes such a great accompaniment to strong tasting or fatty meat dishes. Giving a cleansing taste with a little sweetness.
Norwegian surkål differs from what I perceived sauerkraut to be in that it has spice seeds in it, sometimes has parsnip or apple added to the mix and at Christmas is common to also have it made from red cabbage. Giving it a very festive edge.
With a little research into surkål I found it is also a very healthy dish. Very suited to the northern climes. In that it was a good way in the olden days to preserve summer garden excesses to eat in the snowy winters. It is a great source of vitamin C and was used by sailors for many years to prevent scurvy.
Now I am Dukan, I starting having it with poached or broiled salmon and loved the taste mix. This is one of my favourite meals now.
Then I read the back of the package and realised my favourite surkål had sugar in it and apple. I usually like any food with apple in it so it was no surprise to my husband that I preferred this type of surkål although all of them are very good.
I also started wondering what I would do when we moved back home, which is coming up soon. I knew when I left the only sauerkraut in the supermarket was an occasional appearance there and was in a tiny can. It seemed to be super white cabbage pickled in straight vinegar. Not at all like the soft translucent brown of the Norwegian brands nor the sweetness.
I had to make a dish for a course I was doing online at Coursera, Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. So surkål seemed the natural choice. The dish had to represent a culture, and be healthy. Both of which surkål does.
I researched online and watched videos and read recipes and how tos. I could not follow any recipe I found completely and keep it Dukan friendly. I would love to add in the apple some recipes had. I will save the luxury for my stabilisation phase.
Just over a week ago I made the following recipe. I have not yet tasted it as I am waiting 3 weeks even though it has gone a nice translucent brown already, and I am really tempted to try it early.
Here is what I did.
Chopped the cabbage.
Added salt and whey. The salt was sea salt and the whey was taken from the top of a pot of natural yoghurt. That bit of liquid that sits on the top sometimes. Other whey also works and some people use salt or whey alone. But as this was my first attempt I used both.
I would use a sturdy ceramic bowl next time to bruise the cabbage, as I think it would be faster.
I placed the brused cabbage in a large glass bowl. then added the whey, spice seeds and sea salt. Mixed that through thoroughly with my hands. Then started squeezing the cabbage to release it’s juices. I was surprised how much juice came out of the cabbage. Eventually the cabbage was covered by its juice. If your cabbage is drier than that and no amount of bruising and squeezing gets enough juice to cover it some sites I read recommend topping up with water as it is vital that all of the cabbage is able to be submerged.
Then I put the cabbage in two clean jars, I boiled the jars and lids before using. I would put in a a couple of spoons of cabbage and then press then down firmly many times. It is important to get out all the air. Very important, so be thorough on this step. Do no fill the jar to the top. A couple of sites I read said that the fermentation process can make jars explode if they are filled to the top.
I covered the cabbage with it’s own juice. Then I placed a piece of the outer leaf over the top. this was a piece just bigger than the circumference of the jar. I used that to capture any floating pieces and pushed down on that to make sure they were all under the juice.
I left mine with the lids loose on top of the jars for 2 days. 1-3 days is recommended depending on the temperature. If it is hot weather 1 day is enough they say and if it is cold 3 are needed. As it was winter but we had good heating I went for 2 days. Then I screwed the lids on tightly.
I waited three weeks and saw the green slowly change into the wonderful translucent brown of surkål. I wondered when I opened that first jar if it would look okay on the top. Had I covered it with enough liquid? Would it be sour or just off?
I tasted it, raw, uncooked, straight from the jar. It was sour. It was very sour compared to the store bought surkål, which surprised me at first. But then, I had not added sugar, or apple like the store bought. Sour meant it worked. The natural fermentation process had changed my kål into surkål. Kål being the Norwegian word for cabbage, and sur being the one for sour. I was a happy chappy.
I have had it a few times now, mostly cooked (a few minutes in the microwave) with salmon. Once raw as part of a salad. I thought I might need to add some sugar substitute to cut down the sourness, but now I am expecting it to be sour it’s great just as it is.
Norwegian Saurkraut Recipe – Surkål
Norwegian sauerkraut has it’s own charm. Try this tasty side dish high in vitamin C. Goes well with salmon or other tasty fish.
1 small head cabbage
2 Tablespoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon yoghurt whey
1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds ( or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds ( or more to taste)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds ( or more to taste)
- Clean all surfaces, and boil the jars and lids you will store the surkål in.
- Chop cabbage into pieces mine were approximately 2cm x 1 cm. Some people prefer 1/2 cm or thinner strips. So feel free to make the shape you want.
- Sprinkle the salt and whey over cabbage.
- Bruise the cabbage. I did mine in batches with a mortar and pestle. Some people say they squeeze them with their hands from the start.
- Squeeze the cabbage until the juice comes out and you have enough juice to cover the cabbage.
- Add in the spice seeds.
- Place in a straight sided glass or ceramic jar. Press each layer down firmly to remove as much oxygen as possible. Stop when you are 2 cm from the top of the jar.
- Ensure the cabbage is covered with liquid, then cover the jar with the lid (or a coffee filter) for 1 – 3 days depending on the room temperature.
- Seal the jars and leave for at least 3 weeks, or until the cabbage has turned a translucent light brown colour.
- Recipe makes two 500 ml jars of surkål, depending on the size of the cabbage.
- Do not use normal table salt, only sea salt.
- Surkål is a natural way to preserve cabbage and can be stored for a long time. Refrigerate after opening.
- Serve warm or cold with a protein source.
- Do not use metal or plastic containers or implements.
- Do not over fill the jars or they can apparently explode sometimes.