If you had asked me five years ago if I'd ever eaten sauerkraut, I would have wrinkled my nose and said, "NEVER!" And if I'd never eaten it, you could bet your boots I'd never made it!My first recollection of sauerkraut was as a young teenager visiting a friend's house. We walked in the front door and were assailed by a smell that could make your eyes water. When I asked her what it was she shrugged, "Mom's making sauerkraut."
For the next 20 years I steered clear of sauerkraut like it was the plague. (Gasp! Did I just say 20 years!)
Up until a few years ago, I never thought I'd give it another look. Yet here I am, bringing you a recipe and secretly planning several paragraphs of well-written research to convince you to try it for yourself. :) If the information I discovered could change my mind, surely it has the chance of changing yours. Right?
So without further ado, I'll begin my compelling and persuasive argument. . . ;)
These bacteria work together to break down and convert raw food into more easily digestible components, along with releasing and stabilizing the food's nutrients. There are many stages and processes along the way, but the end result is a food that's now healthy, easy on your digestion, and preservable for an extended period of time without a freezer or canning methods.
Nowadays it's common to have a freezer or a pantry full of canned foods. But just because we have those conveniences doesn't mean it's better to use them. Preserving foods by fermentation has numerous health advantages we'd miss out on otherwise. When lacto-fermenting fruits and vegetables, you're
- enhancing their digestibility
- increasing their vitamin levels
- producing helpful enzymes
- producing antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances
- normalizing the acidity of the stomach
- promotes healthy flora in the intestines
- helps break down proteins
- aids in the assimilation of iron
- activates the secretions of the pancreas which is particularly important for diabetics
- cleans the intestines
- contains choline which lowers blood pressure, regulates nutrients in the blood, aids the metabolism of fats in the body
- contains acetylcholine which has a powerful effect on the nervous system, reduces blood pressure, slows down the rate of heartbeats, promotes calmness and sleep, and has a beneficial effect on the movements of the intestine which makes it recommended for constipation
This is just the tip of the iceberg, you guys! There are numerous books about lacto-fermenting that you can spend hours digging into.
The sauerkraut recipe I'm sharing with you today is right out of Nourishing Traditions - one of my favorite cookbooks and the same one I base my Fermented Ketchup recipe on.
Sauerkraut (casein-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free, yeast-free, anti-candida, low-carb)
1 medium cabbage (red or green), cleaned and shredded
1 T. caraway seeds
1 T. celtic sea salt
4 T. whey (optional - if you don't use whey then add an additional 1 T. of salt - however, using whey is consistently successful and adds it's own health benefits. If you don't use whey this recipe will be casein-free)
1. Wash a head of cabbage and chop up by hand.
2. Now you can join the ranks of women from days gone by and rhythmically pound the cabbage over and over until it's smashed into itsy bitsy, tiny little pieces and the juices are released (about 10 minutes), or you can place the cabbage in a food processor and turn the switch. I love the crunch of crisp cabbage, but my arms eventually force me to use the automatic spinning blades. They make me to do it against my will. Really.
3. Now we add the caraway seeds, salt, and whey if you're using it, (if you're not using whey, add another Tablespoon of salt) and stir it well.
4. Push the cabbage firmly down into a jar (have I mentioned how much I love my Fido jars?) until the juices come over the top by about 1 inch. Cover tightly and do. not. open.
Note: The recipe's directions say to let it sit for 3 days before you refrigerate it, but after reading The Science Behind Sauerkraut Fermentation (again, this was Lea's genius) I realized that a three day ferment was not nearly long enough for the lactobactillius to do their job. I keep my sauerkraut on the counter for at least 30 days. It's ready when the bubbles on the sides and top of the jar are gone.
Paula Miller is a child of God, wife to Travis, homeschooling mom of five, Christian children's author, lover of coconut oil, and Lilla Rose consultant. She and her family live on a small hobby farm in the Midwest. Several years of family health problems led her to learn about whole foods, candida, food allergies, and healthy alternatives to modern medicine. She chats about whole food, whole living, and whole faith on her blog, Whole Intentions. You can also find her on Facebook and and Twitter.