Homemade Sauerkraut

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When life gives you cabbage~make sauerkraut!  This time-honored dish is one of the most well known fermented dishes.  It’s distinctive flavor and delightfully crunchy texture makes this age old art, a “must-do” on everyone’s bucket list.  The uNreFiNed Art of Lacto-Fermentation is far superior in flavor and health benefits, to anything you can find at a grocery store.  Lacto-Fermentation is the art of cultivating the proper environment for Lactobacillus Bacteria to thrive and create Lactic-Acid.  Lactic Acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of dangerous pathogens.  It cultures your dish with a vast array of probiotics that aid in digestion and GI recovery.  Cabbage itself is excellent for intestinal health. It is loaded with nutrient dense vitamins and minerals, it even has more vitamin c than an orange. It also happens to be an amazing source of the amino acid L-Glutamine, which is most well known for aiding in muscle building and development. L-Glutamine has a profound impact on the gut. Cabbage is recommended for stomach ulcers because of its healing properties and it can also help with hyper-permeability of the intestinal lining, associated with leaky-gut syndrome.

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When you ferment this fall favorite vegetable it magnifies the benefits and becomes one of the most powerful probiotic foods available. I highly recommend homemade sauerkraut to anyone with any type of intestinal ailments. Sufferers of Crohn’s, Colitis or any other intestinal ailment will reap the benefits of the restoring properties found in this dish. Sauerkraut beautifully unites one of the most healthy vegetables with one of the most traditionally nourishing methods of preservation.  Friendly microorganisms become established in the gut and boost your body’s immune system. Digestibility is enhanced and and vitamin and enzyme content actually increases. B vitamins increase at the highest percentage. This heart-healthy dish aids in energy production in the body. The healing qualities of sauerkraut are particularly profound within the intestinal tract. Protection from ulcers and colon cancer are only a few of the gastro-benefits this dish has to offer. Foods rich in a vitamin C, an extremely powerful antioxidant are critical to eye health. Macular degeneration and glaucoma can be delayed and even prevented. Citrus fruits are well known for their high vitamin C content, but did you know that sauerkraut has a higher amount of this antioxidant, and is more absorbable. One cup of sauerkraut offers 35% of your daily recommended value of vitamin c.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of lacto-fermenting their own sauerkraut.  However, the experience is so rewarding, it’s a must do for everyone to make their own kraut at least once.  I want to help you end the intimidation that accompanies this process.  Part of that is going to be reassuring you, that if for whatever reason something goes very wrong, which is very rare, the smell will be unmistakable.  Common sense would not allow you to eat something that would smell like rotting food.  Many people are very afraid of introducing horrible pathogens.  These thoughts are unwarranted. Getting the process done right is easier than you may have thought.

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I love Fall, it is my favorite season.  In addition to me being very partial to the weather and the smell of leaves and the beautiful crisp air, I love cabbage.  I probably stand with the minority of people who are not exclusively excited for pumpkin flavored everything that surrounds this season ☺️ I definitely love and appreciate pumpkin, however this season just screams cabbage to me.  Local, organic cabbage is in abundance!  I am lucky enough to live in Kutztown, where there is no shortage of farmers selling my fall favorites.  Try to buy local and organic whenever possible.

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Let’s dive into how to make this amazingly beneficial dish.  1 very large head of cabbage will yield 1 gallon of sauerkraut.  When making sauerkraut in a 1 gallon container you will use 5 teaspoons of salt, evenly distributed throughout the jar.  I reserve the last teaspoon for sprinkling over the top. Don’t overlook the importance of searching for a good quality salt.  Regardless of what type of salt you chose to use, do not use iodine enhanced stuff salt of any variety.  The most important reason to NOT buy iodized salt for your fermented dishes is because Iodine is anti-microbial. This will inhibit the growth of lactobacillus. I prefer sea salt, in particular Celtic Sea Salt.  Refined salts contain harmful chemicals and processing additives.  Celtic Sea Salt contains 82 of the trace minerals needed for matchless vitality.  Without getting off the topic of sauerkraut too far, I’d like to just talk up Celtic Sea Salt for a moment and the benefits that accompany this type of salt.  The geographical coordinates of the Atlantic Ocean and climatic conditions of where this salt is harvested, plays a crucial part in the unique mix of sea minerals and quality.  This salt is harvested in Brittany, France near the Celtic Sea…hence the name.  The method of harvest plays a pivotal part in preserving the salt in its most natural state.  As I am very partial to Celtic Sea Salt and Himalayan Sea Salt, don’t let that take away from your own preference and doing your own research.  There are a handful of good quality salts that are far superior to refined table salt.  I urge you to always search for unrefined foods whenever possible.  Without further delay we will start the process of sauerkraut.  I do recommend some basic equipment for making sauerkraut.  I sell Fermentation Systems available on this site.  They are complete with an Air-Lock Lid to ensure a safe and anaerobic environment for your sauerkraut.  They also have a glass weight that holds the cabbage below the brine and helps with even distribution of Lactic-Acid.

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Once you have your vessel cleaned and ready for your cabbage you want to start by making sure you remove any wilted and brown or yellowing leaves.

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Shred or chop your cabbage leaves into long thin strips, roughly an 1/8 of an inch thick.  Toss some salt on the cabbage and let it sit while you clean up the mess from shredding and cutting your cabbage.  That will give the salt a few minutes to start drawing the juices out of the cabbage.

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Next is the labor intensive part, this could even count as a few minutes of cardio for your day. You want to pound your cabbage strips for a generous 10 minutes, releasing all of the juices that will create your brine.  When this process is complete you want to force all of the cabbage pieces down the best you can.  You don’t want any pieces exposed to oxygen.  If your brine is not quite deep enough to cover properly you can add 1-3 tablespoons of salt to a cup of water and pour overtop your kraut.  Celery juice adds natural sodium as well, so there is an optional step here to juice a few stalks of celery and add this to the brine.  In addition to the natural sodium it also adds a nice depth of flavor and added nutritional benefits.  As I have continued to emphasize this all evening, buy organic.  Celery is one of the most pesticide ridden vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list.

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The equipment you will need for making sauerkraut is very simple. One of the easiest things to buy is a glass jar with a special lid, called an air lock grommet. This basically allows co2 build up to escape the grommet when the pressure builds up, but does not allow any oxygen into the jar.

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Your sauerkraut can sit at room temperature from anywhere from 1 month to 6 depending on what suits your flavor preferences.You can transfer to cold storage at this point and it will keep for at least a few months and up to a year.  Don’t allow yourself to be tempted to eat/double dip out of your storage crock, you don’t want to introduce any bacteria to your kraut.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

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