Probiotics!!!!! wha’t not to love? healthy gut bacteria, easy digestion, protect us from ‘unfriendly’ and harmful bacteria, boost the immune system!….
In recent times, we’ve been hearing so much about probiotics, in foods and in supplement form. Although every person has a different body composition and gut environment, it is essential to always remember a couple of things:
1) The majority of the immune system resides in our gut.
2) Eating whole foods and staying away from processed foods is the way to go!
And my favorite foods to eat that are loaded with probiotics are fermented foods like SAUERKRAUT. So I had to learn to make it because 1) it is super easy and 2) the store-bought products can contain additives that I just don’t need.
Briefly, SAUERKRAUT 101 – is made out of 3 ingredients cabbage, salt and caraway seeds. But you can add other ingredients too to make it more fun. Foods naturally have bacteria, hopefully more good than bad, and in the fermentation process is when the ‘good or healthy’ bacteria outgrows (probiotic).
There is no wrong way to do it, the only requirement is that you keep everything clean. This includes utensils and the glass container (mason jar) where you will store the kraut. Oh, and I recommend that you get good quality or organic cabbage.
1 medium head green (or purple) cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)
Other optional ingredients: beets, ginger, carrots.
2-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or two-quart mason jars)
Clean the cabbage really well, getting rid of wilted leaves. Washing is not that necessary if it is a ‘clean and good’ cabbage. Make sure all equipment are clean specially the mason jars
Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove the core and cut the cabbage into thin strips. You can also use a mandoline if you have one.
Put the cabbage in the mixing bowl with the salt and start massaging with your hands. It will take some time but what this will do is soften the cabbage while it releases liquid. This is the brine that will help the fermentation process. This can take 10 minutes.
Add the caraway seeds at this point and mix throughly.
Pack the cabbage into the jar really well pushing it down with your fist or a wooden spoon. Leave about 1-inch space from the cabbage to the top of the jar. This is essential because as it is fermenting, the cabbage will bubble up as it is giving off air (or gas) from the bacteria doing its magic. Close with the lid but not too tight.
Leave in the dark from 1 to 2 weeks, away from the light and heat. I recommend you check every so often to make sure the cabbage is submerged in the brine, you can push with a clean fork.
After a few days you can taste and see how it is. The amount of time will depend in how you want your kraut to taste, the longer the fermentation the more sour it will get. For me, I usually like it at around 2 weeks, then I will transfer the jars to the fridge.
You can store sauerkraut for several months in the fridge
Super important tip: And don’t throw away the juice, it is considered a tonic and has as much benefits as the sauerkraut itself. You can either have a shot of it (heard of gut shot?), use it in vinaigrette or use it in the next batch of sauerkraut you are making.
Purple cabbage sauerkraut
Ginger sauerkraut and purple cabbage sauerkraut.