Monday, September 28, 2009

A month’s worth of probiotics for the price of a cabbage!

Did you know that you can easily make your own probiotics at home in your own kitchen from simple ingredients like salt, water and cabbage?
Lacto-fermented cabbage, aka Sauerkraut, is an ancient cultured vegetable that is loaded with probiotics and enzymes that grow through natural fermentation. I like getting my probiotics and enzymes from a food rather than a bottled supplement. I believe these probiotics and enzymes become highly available to the body because they are live right from the food rather than processed in an industrial plant awaiting rehydration in the digestive tract.

People that have taken many courses of antibiotics usually have reduced and out-of-balance intestinal bacteria opening the door for illnesses like candida, IBS, fungal infections, and parasites. Eating small amounts of lacto-fermented vegetables (1-2 tablespoons) at lunch and dinner on a regular basis helps to gently repair the intestinal environment. The enzymes help to digest the meal while the probiotics repopulate the intestines with friendly bacteria.

Watch Sauerkraut Video!

Here is the recipe for Sauerkraut:


1 medium cabbage, green, red or savoy (curly)
For leaf layer: 3-4 whole cabbage leaves peeled from the outside of the cabbage

For the brine
2 quarts filtered or spring water
Pure salt, kosher, pickling or coarse sea salt, with no additives

Large pot for boiling water
2 wide mouth quart canning jars
2 canning lids and rings
2-4 rocks that easily fit through the mouth of the canning jar. Garden rocks are great. Look for a rock about 2-3 inches in diameter and not more than 1 inch high. Alternately, you can use 2 smaller rocks in each jar.
Scrub rocks with a brush, run through dishwasher or wash thoroughly by hand.
Small pot for sterilizing the canning lids, rings and rocks
Something to press the cabbage into the jar, a crab mallet, a wooden food pusher, etc
Wide mouth funnel (optional) for filling the jar

Bring the filtered water to a boil for 4 minutes.
After it’s cooled a bit add 3 tablespoons of salt and stir to dissolve.
Allow brine to cool to near room temperature (2-4 hours or overnight)

In small pot sterilize lids, rings and rocks by boiling for 4 minutes.
Let them cool about 10 minutes and pour out the water to let them cool further.

Peel off, and set aside, a few outer leaves of the cabbage for the top leaf layer (you can also use horseradish leaves, raspberry leaves or grape leaves instead of cabbage).

When the brine is almost cool, chop or grate cabbage.
If using herbs or spices put them at the bottom of the quart jars.
Start layering the cut cabbage into the jar an inch or two high at a time, gently pressing it down with hands or pressing tool.
Keep adding 1-2 inch layers of cabbage until about 2-3 inches of space is left at the top.
Press it down again.
Fold a cabbage leaf, or other leaf to fit over the top layer of cabbage and press it in.
Place a rock or rocks on top of the leaf.
Pour brine into the jar leaving about 1 inch of space from the top.
Wipe any brine off top of jar, put lid on jar, and screw on band.

Allow to ferment on kitchen counter or shelf for 3 days at room temperature, 72 degrees.
Gently move to the refrigerator for 3 weeks.
Eat after 3-4 weeks. Store in refrigerator. Taste gets better with time.
Lasts 3-6 months in refrigerator.

Watch Sauerkraut Video!

Purchase Lacto-Fermentation Through The Seasons recipe book!


Some Art Mama said...

Thank you so much for sending me this recipe. Before your comment I did try some whey in ginger carrots and a broccoli, daikon, carrots mix. I will see how we do with it.

Gluten Free Sourdough Baker said...

One more word: I tried whey in sauerkraut and found it discolored the cabbage and diminished the shelf life.

Some Art Mama said...

Why do you think so many recipes call for whey? I have a lot of it right now because I like to drain my homemade yogurt, otherwise what an obstacle to trying to make your own pro biotic veggies.

Gluten Free Sourdough Baker said...

HI Some Art Mama,
I'm not sure why so many recipes call for whey. I'm not convinced it's a classic veg fermentation ingredient. I think classically people may have used more salt but using whey enables people to bring the salt content down.

It's used as an inoculant, a preservative against pathogenic bacteria. It seems to be imperative to pickle sweet veggies and fruits. Since I'm allergic to all dairy I use water kefir instead of whey for those fruity ferments. It works really well.

I read a paper about some Asian farming people fermenting the tough greens leftover from their harvest, digging a ditch, letting the greens dry for a few days, covering with dirt and coming back to eat it in the winter when the fresh stores ran out. There was no whey in that recipe, I don't even think that group of people drank milk products.

People should not be deterred by thinking they need whey for their veggie ferments. I've fermented at least 20 different veggies without whey. Just salt, veggies and water.