Kitsa’s ‘Prima Donna’ Kraut

Pete finds out that we are actually more bacteria than human – thanks to the healthy microbes that live in our gut. How do we take care of these vital organisms? Fermented foods! From Sauerkraut with Kitsa Yanniotis, to Coconut Kefir and Yogurt with Maria Hunt, to Kimchi, to the PRE-biotic: Sweet Potato Fries with Anthia Koullouros.

Makes:  1 x 1.5L jar


  • 600 g cabbage (green, red or a mix of the two)
  • 100 g fennel
  • 50 g kale leaves
  • 2 red apples, core removed
  • 1 red onion
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 sachet vegetable starter culture (2–5 g, depending on the brand)


  1. You will need a 1.5-litre preserving jar with an airlock lid for this recipe. Wash the jar and utensils thoroughly in very hot water or run them through a hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher.
  2. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Choose one of the outer leaves, wash it well and set aside. Shred the cabbage, fennel, kale, red apple, and red onion in a food processor with a shredder attachment or slice by hand or with a mandolin, then place in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage mix then mix well, cover and set aside while you prepare the starter culture.
  3. Dissolve the starter culture in water according to the packet instructions (the amount of water will depend on the brand you are using). Add to the cabbage mix and mix well.
  4. Fill the prepared jar with the cabbage mixture, pressing down firmly in between each addition with a large spoon or potato masher to remove any air pockets. Leave 2 cm of room free at the top. The cabbage should be completely submerged in the liquid, so add more water if necessary.
  5. Take the clean cabbage leaf, fold it up and place it on top of the mixture, then add a small glass weight to keep everything submerged (a small shot glass is ideal). Close the lid, then wrap a tea towel around the side of the jar to block out the light. Store in a dark place at a temperature of 16 – 23°C for at least 10 days and up to 2 weeks. (You can place the jar in an esky to maintain a more consistent temperature.)
  6. Different vegetables have different culturing times and the warmer the temperature, the shorter the time needed. The longer you leave the jar to ferment, the greater the level of good bacteria will be present. It’s up to you how long you leave it – some people prefer the tangier flavour that comes with extra fermenting time, while others prefer a milder flavour.
  7. Chill before eating. Once opened, it will last for up to 2 months in the fridge when kept submerged in the liquid. If unopened, it will keep for up to 9 months in the fridge.
  8. Tip: I use a Culture For Life starter jar as they are purpose-made for fermenting vegetables. If you do use one of these, there is no need to cover and weight the shredded cabbage with a folded cabbage leaf and shot glass, as the jar has an inbuilt weighting system. There is also no need to cover with a tea towel as there is a silicone cover provided to block out the light.