Fermented Foods: Nature’s Probiotic

Anti-Inflammatory, Sunny Sauerkraut Are you taking a daily probiotic?

I am! It’s one of my favorite, daily health promoting habits. Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that populate our gut, creating a healthy ecology of living microorganisms, or beneficial bacteria which work to crowd out the bad bacteria.

We want to have a healthy balance, about 80% good bacteria, to keep the other 20% of naturally occurring bad bacteria, in line. Probiotics can help you maintain this balance. They also support a healthy immune system, overall good gut health, and tip top digestion.

So do you have to take a supplement to get your daily probiotics? Nope! I love using real, whole foods to build my health instead of solely relying on supplements. Enter fermented foods!

Fermented foods are nature’s probiotic.  Probiotic supplements are great, don’t get me wrong, but I like to incorporate other fermented foods into my day, to ensure I am getting a variety of different probiotics.

Some of my favorite fermented foods are: Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchi, Miso and Beet Kvass, as well as anything pickled (and not the kind of pickles you make with vinegar!).

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 A few more reasons fermented foods are great:

Not only do fermented foods supply us with a rich source of probiotics, they also come with other health promoting benefits.

Fermented foods:

  • Enhance the vitamin nutrients in food
  • Improve the bio-availability of minerals present in food
  • Enhance natural digestive enzymes
  • Promote healthy digestion

Should you buy fermented foods OR make them yourself?

 Fermented foods and drinks are quite literally alive with flavor and nutrition.  ~Sandor Ellix Katz

Fermented foods that you purchase from the store do not have the same nutrient content as the ferments you can make yourself at home.  This is because they are pasteurized. Pasteurization kills any microorganisms that were created in the fermentation process.  But this is the opposite of what we want!  We want the microorganisms that are living inside the ferment because this is where you find the health benefits.  Therefore, it’s much better to make your own ferments.

And it just so happens to be quite easy and fun!

Do you want to try your hand at a traditional ferment?

Below is a simple recipe for sauerkraut. This is a basic version, with a twist of turmeric. The turmeric will provide your immune system with a boost, along with anti-inflammatory benefits. You can leave it out if you prefer and just use the caraway seeds. It’s quite tasty and the beautiful, bright yellow coloring is sure to make your eyes dance with joy.

Anti-Inflammatory, Sunny Sauerkraut

 Anti-Inflammatory, Sunny Sauerkraut

Yields about 1 gallon of kraut

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds green cabbage
  • 2-3 tablespoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Turmeric
  • 1 gallon mason jar
  • cheese cloth or towel
  • Plastic sandwich bag (filled with water, to act as a weight)
Lets do this:
  1. Get set up: Clean/sterilize mason jar (simply wash or rinse with food grade hydrogen peroxide) and allow to air dry while preparing cabbage.
  2. Prep the cabbage: Remove outer leaves from cabbage, and set aside for later use. Cut stem from cabbage. Remove core. Slice cabbage into ribbons, thinly.
  3. Start the brine process: Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle in salt. (option – at this point you can let the cabbage sit in the salt brine for about 30 minutes allowing water to be release and the cabbage to soften).
  4. Work it! Then massage cabbage for about 20 minutes or until you have a nice release of juices.
  5. Spice it up: Add the turmeric (be careful turmeric stains, wash hands immediately and be careful of your clothes) and/or caraway seeds.
  6. Pack it in, Brine it up: Now transfer cabbage into your sterilized jar(s). Using a wooden spoon, push down cabbage helping to release even more water. Pour brine left in bowl over top of cabbage.
  7. IMPORTANT: the brine (salted water from the cabbage) must cover the cabbage completely. If the brine is not covering your cabbage, mold will form and your kraut will not work. If for some reason you do not have enough brine, don’t worry! Mix one tablespoon of salt with 1 cup of water, mix together and add to the jars as needed.
  8. Finish it up: Now place the reserved cabbage leaves on top of the cabbage, creating a barrier so that if any mold should grow there is a barrier.
  9. Add some weight: Here’s a helpful trick to make sure your sauerkraut doesn’t rise and get exposed to air. Take a sandwich bag and fill it with some water. Then let this rest on top of the sauerkraut, filling in all the empty space. This creates a nice seal.
  10. Cover, Label, Store: Cover with a towel and secure with a rubberband. You do not need a lid. Label your jar with the date on a piece of masking tape, as well as the type of sauerkraut. Place in a dark location that will remain undisturbed.
  11. Let the Magic Happen: Allow your kraut to ferment for about 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks have passed, it’s time to taste test and transfer to the fridge to be enjoyed as you desire.
  12. Enjoy a little kraut every day!

Notes:

Spot Checks: Every few days check to make sure your kraut is still submerged under liquid. If you find that any mold is growing on top, simply remove those leaves or the top layer, add a little more brine, and cover again. There is nothing wrong with your ferment if you get mold, just remove it and continue on.

Store it: Once your kraut is ready, store it in the fridge for several months.

So what do you think?!

Are you going to try your hand at Sunny Sauerkraut? Are you nervous to try? Send me your questions or comments!