It’s so easy…
Learn How to Make Sauerkraut
If you are like me you might be thinking that making a fermented food at home is time consuming and expensive. Not true, it is actually very easy and super cheap! In this episode my host kitchen was NanetteAchziger.com. Nanette and I have filmed a few times together, you might remember her in the Grainless Cranberry Chocolate Scones. She is always a wealth of information in the kitchen. You will love her site and her expert post and recipes. This recipe and other tips about fermenting can be found in her book Kaizen: A Toolbox for Cultivating Optimal Health. You can buy it directly from this link, but tell her go2kitchens.com sent you for an autographed copy!
My Kraut Confession
My parents would open a can of sauerkraut and I would gag as a kid. Gross, who eats something that smells like death? What I didn’t know is that smell was teeming with life. So all I could remember about sauerkraut was that I did not like it, YUCK. As an adult I stuck to it and as I made changes in my diet the “S” word, sauerkraut, kept coming up. It was 4th of July 2015 and Nanette brought a fresh batch over for our cookout. I wanted to be polite so I thought maybe if I put it on my grass fed burger I would not taste it so much and I could at least try it. Well what happened next was, I could not get enough. I asked her to leave the jar with me because I was instantly addicted. I panicked as the jar started getting empty and asked her could I buy a jar from her. She said no way… 🙁 Then she invited me over and taught me how to make it. So the video here is my very first attempt and I can tell you it was a long 4 weeks waiting for it to ferment! It is so easy you will be pleasantly surprised. Her tips along the way take all the guess work out of the process.
Why Eat Fermented Foods?
I wish I had a one word answer for you. The truth is there are many reasons why. Almost all cultures have some sort of fermented food. Some processes date back as far as 6000 BC. We can for sure date it back to ancient Rome and China. We stopped making and eating fermenting foods at home as early as the 1920’s with the invention of the refrigerator and even more so with the ease in which fresh foods can be transported in modern times.
Fermentation in easy to understand terms is when the starches and sugars in food are converted into lactic acid producing a bacteria, lactobacilli, which is a probiotic. This happens as sealed jars of veggies and/or fruits sit in a dark place for 1-8 weeks. The bacteria starts to grow and the food starts to break down and “bingo” fermented foods. The digestion of these bacteria in the stomach causes a “take over” that will in time ease the digestion and elimination (pooping) process. Also you can see in the video that we pound the kraut to get it to release the juices. That is so you have some natural juice flow but it also simulates a bit of chewing. It does not replace chewing, you still need the enzymes in your saliva to help break down the food. However it does get the party started making it easier to digest once it gets in your gut. Remember, sauerkraut is a raw food as well which means you are getting maximum plant enzymes in your bod! Rule of thumb, alway use organic veggies because the fermenting process can actually ramp up the pesticides and make them even more absorbable by your body.
So yes, you are effectively eating live growing bacteria in fermented food. In a world of germaphobic notions where we are told to wash our hands with anti-bacterial soap every 5 mins and there are antibacterial wipes at every door of every major business in America, why would we expose ourselves to bacteria? Well the simple truth is with a diet high in prepackaged, processed, over cooked, washed to death, antibiotic filled, pesticide laden foods, we have managed to destroy all the good bacteria in our stomaches. If you suffer from any of these; auto-immune disease, depression, constipation, inflammation, bloating, gas, IBS, crones, colitis, and yes even hemorrhoids you have gut health issues. The good news is you can cure it with the right diet and part of that process comes from the good bacteria (probiotic) found in fermented food like this sauerkraut. If you want more help on this subject I can point you in the best direction I know and that is thedigestiondoctor.com Dr. Christine Kaczmar. She can help you find a path, her slogan is she helps people heal from the crappiest of health conditions…get it? Tell her I sent you!
Types of Fermented Foods
- Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage, traditionally green. If you are buying store bought stay away from the ones made with vinegar, this is not true fermentation but rather more of a pickling. True lactic acid kraut will be found in the refrigerated section and contain no vinegar.
- Kimchi – Korean in origin and can be very spicy. Made with a variety of spices and veggies. Probably not the best fermented food if you are new to the idea.
- Kefir – A dairy product that is a yogurt like drink. It is made with Kefir grains and has a tart taste similar to raw yogurt. Great for smoothies if you are not avoiding dairy. Make sure that you are getting grass fed, organic and raw varieties.
- Miso – A fermented soy bean used for soup bases for 1000’s of years in Asian cultures. Chances are you have had Miso Soup in a restaurant before.
- Kvass – If you are trying to replace sodas in your diet then this is your new friend. Fizzy and it can be sweeter and fruitier than all of the fermented foods. Great drink for the hard to please!
- Kombucha – This drink has been making waves in the health world. Great fermented drink with a kick that makes you feel as if you are having a sparkling wine or hard cider. Great for replacing the daily alcohol you might be consuming. Comes in many flavors and is becoming readily available in main stream grocery stores. I would suggest that if you are new to fermenting you skip making kombucha until you get some practice. It can mold and make you sick if you are not careful.
These are just a few of the many kinds of fermented foods. I hope you enjoyed the video and the information here. Below is the recipe and I welcome your comments and ideas for fermenting.
Med Green Cabbage
1 Small Onion
1 TBSP of Salt
1 TSP Oregano
1⁄2 TSP Red Pepper Flakes
1 TSP Cumin
1⁄4 Cup Purified Water
Thinly slice all veggies. Mix in a large bowl with all spices and salts. Pound cabbage mix with wooden spoon until it releases its juices, about 5 minutes. Pack veggies in a wide mouth mason jar and pound with a wooden spoon as you go. You want a tightly packed jar with very little air pockets. Put lid on and put in cabinet overnight. Check next day and add purified water to cover contents. Leave in cabinet for 2-4 weeks checking to make sure the contents are always covered in liquid to prevent mold. I recommend watching the video to get it just right!