Say Hello to Ruby Kraut

Say Hello to Hayley’s Ruby Kraut
The ancient art of food fermentation was highlighted at last year’s Ballymaloe Literary Festival when Sandor Katz was one of the stars of the event. Known as a “fermenation fethisihist” and also as “Sandorkraut” (for his love of Sauerkraut), he wrote the Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003) which Newsweek called "the fermenting bible".

Sandor talks the talk and walks the walk and in Skibbereen you’ll find another who is making a name for herself in the field. This is Hayley Milthorpe of The Cultured Food Company and I am loving her Ruby Red Raw Sauerkraut at the moment. Her aim is to make “Hand crafted raw fermented foods - reviving the ancient tradition of natural food preservation through fermentation. Real foods with real culture!!”. She makes the Ruby Red, available at the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market and other outlets in West Cork itself, with red cabbage, cumin seeds and sea salt.

I know, from experience, that Sauerkraut is not everyone’s cup of tea. Once, on a trip in Austria, I tried it in the restaurant in the monastery at Melk. It had enough vinegar to discourage. But a couple of days later, in a wine-tavern in the Vienna Woods, I tried it again and hit the jackpot. Indeed, the people with me thought I was mad but, in the end, they were looking for tasters! The lesson is to keep trying.

If you haven't tried it before, I recommended that you ease yourself into it. I did this today. Get a roll or better still some sourdough. I added a sausage and a rasher and just a little of the sauerkraut for a start. It was there, a background player.

Then I repeated (the rolls were small), adding a little more of the sauerkraut this time. Very nice and this time the sauerkraut played more of a role (forgive the pun), adding some lovely spice to the rasher and sausage.

You’ll find lots of articles on the internet, including on Hayley’s site here  about the benefits of fermented foods and saurkraut in particular. Indeed, I haven't found any article against. A few excerpts follow.

Red cabbage is rich in compounds called anthocyanins that give the vegetable its distinctive dark color. They are also powerful antioxidants which are believed to have anti inflammatory properties. Lacto fermentation naturally boosts the antioxidant content. So red sauerkraut has some serious antioxidant power!

Do you suffer from wind & bloating? Did you know that these are signs of inadequate digestion? Eating raw fermented foods such as sauerkraut with meals can help support your digestion to help you overcome these embarrassing symptoms! Tip: to stimulate digest eat a spoonful of sauerkraut 20 mins before meal.


On its own, the Skibbereen Ruby is a crunchy bite, full of tart flavours. Add to sandwiches and salads, use with grilled sausages or even a burger.  Kraut is served with roast turkey, fresh pork roast. Some like it on hot dogs; others with any pork product and mashed potatoes; also on spare ribs and with apple sauce. Perhaps Hayley will get a few pointers up on her Facebook page soon!

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