One of the healthiest ways to add natural probiotics to your intestinal flora is to make your own sauerkraut. It’s a delicious way to use fresh cabbage from your garden or the neighbourhood market, adding tangy flavour to your meals.
Commercial sauerkraut has to be pasteurized which destroys all the wonderful friendly, beneficial bacteria. Raw sauerkraut is ‘living’ and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins C, K and B6, folate, iron, potassium and copper! It’s one of the few foods that contain the Lactobacillus plantarum, a crucial strain of healthful bacteria.
Some books suggest using miso or seaweed for your starter instead of salt (too much can cause ‘dampness’ and keeps your system from being alkaline, which is what you want) Here we use lemon juice plus a bit of salt…read up on this and decide for yourself.
If you enjoy sauerkraut you might think of doubling the recipe and it will last you much of the year.
1 organic cabbage (green or red, or a mix of the two)
1/2 c lemon juice
3 tbsp dried dill, or 1/2 c fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp caraway seeds (prevents gas)
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh pickled *white ginger (optional but it makes a fabulous sauerkraut)
1 q glass mason jar
First, this doesn’t really take that long if you use a food processor ~ most of the time involved is letting the cabbage sit. Make sure your hands, jars, utensils are all very clean…you want healthy bacteria only.
Look for FRESH cabbages (especially in the fall) which should be heavy and firm (with moisture).
Wash well, and discard outer leaves.
Slice the cabbage into thin strips with a knife or use the slicing blade on your food processor. Transfer to a large enough bowl you can toss the ingredients in.
Mix all ingredients together and massage with hands to help release the juices, then let stand for a 1/2 hour. This gives your hands a rest and allows the liquid to rise to top. Go back several times at half hour intervals to knead/massage the cabbage.
Place the kraut in a 1 qt. glass Mason jar, press the cabbage down firmly with a wooden spoon to really pack it tightly into the jar with as few air bubbles as possible. Leave space at the top, and there should be a bit of liquid on top of the packed cabbage. The juice may sink down a bit, that is OK. The size or number of jars needed depends on the size of the cabbage.
Place the lid on the jar and let sit in a dark cupboard 4 – 6 days, depending on desired sourness. (juice may or may not ooze out, each cabbage seems to have a mind of it own) If cabbages are not fresh they don’t seem to ferment properly though it will be fine to eat.
Once the sauerkraut is ready, place it in the refrigerator, it will keep for up to 8 months.
*Use white pickled ginger as the pink version is dyed and not as healthy. You can find white in most health food stores or in Chinatown.
Try a tablespoon on top of your salads each day ~ it adds great crunch and flavour, or use daily as a side condiment with other foods. You’ll develop quite a taste for this wonderful food from nature.