If you like cabbage and want better gut health, then you’re lucky. Not only is Sauerkraut tasty and very inexpensive, it works as a great probiotic, too. It can boost your intestinal flora by adding it to your diet, just like other fermented foods.
I was surprised to see how easy it is to make a batch of sauerkraut. And it can be done in advance and kept for months in the refrigerator. If you aren’t the biggest sauerkraut fan yet, the benefits of adding fermented foods could change your mind.
And, all you need is the following to make a quart of sauerkraut:
- 1 small head cabbage
- 2-3 tablespoons Himalayan salt (or 3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of cabbage)
- 1 quart canning jar
The recipe I’m sharing calls for Himalayan salt. But, you could use any salt you prefer. Years ago, Pink Himalayan salt wasn’t trendy. So, you’d have to go to the caves to find it. Fortunately, it is now carried by most grocery stores, making it easy to find. I chose to use it, because it’s considered a cleaner salt. Also, many claims that its mineral-rich traits make it healthier for the digestive system.
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The Benefits of Fermented Foods
Probiotic use is on the rise. You don’t have to search in health food stores for supplements anymore. They are all over the place. However, they’re pretty pricey! So, a lot of people stick with, or switching to fermented food.
Fermented foods are produced through a lacto-fermentation cycle. This is when the natural bacteria feed on the food starch and sugar which creates the lactic acid. And here’s why we find these foods so healthy and beneficial:
- Preserve and create B-vitamins; beneficial enzymes; Omega-3 fatty acids; and a variety of probiotics
- Vitamin K2 (found in some fermented foods) aids in preventing plaque buildup in the arteries
- Boost the immune system and improve digestive health
- Detoxify the body by drawing out some heavy metals and toxins.
Along with the above benefits, it’s also much less costly and more efficient than probiotic supplements, particularly when you’re making your own.
So, why not make your own probiotic with a simple, homemade batch of sauerkraut?
Making Sauerkraut For An Effective Probiotic
This recipe is really easy and I believe everyone should give it a try. These are the steps that need to be followed:
1. Slice the cabbage into about 8 sections, then discard the core.
2. Either shred the cabbage with a food processor or grater, or cut into thin ribbons with a knife.
3. Place the shredded cabbage into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle salt over the top.
4. Start kneading the salt into the cabbage by squeezing and mixing with your hands. If it’s not beginning to wilt or generate water, add more salt. Do this for approximately 4 minutes, then let it sit for another 10 minutes. Now is the time to add other seasonings if you want, such as black pepper, caraway seeds, or garlic.
5. Start packing the wilted cabbage into a canning jar. I used a small cabbage and a quart jar was a perfect fit. Push the cabbage down with a spoon as you go along. Pour any leftover water from the bowl into the jar. Make sure the cabbage is submerged in liquid. If it’s not, add a little salt water to make sure the liquid is covering the cabbage.
6. Place the lid on the jar and let it sit in a room where the temperature is between 65°and 75° F.
Over the next 24 hours, open the jar and periodically press the cabbage down, and add extra liquid if needed. The fermentation cycle will take between 10-14 days, but it should be checked regularly to ensure that the cabbage is completely submerged. During this time, you might notice some foam or bubbles, but that is normal. And a strong indication that it does work. But, if you see mold, make sure you pull it out and throw it away.
After 10 days, start tasting it. If it tastes nice for you, put it in the fridge. When refrigerated, it will last for around 6 months.
If you are not eating too many fermented foods, then slowly start adding this to your diet. Start with a tablespoon of fermented food a day and increasing it slowly until you are up to 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup a day. Perhaps you don’t want to eat sauerkraut every day. No problem. For the days you want a break from sauerkraut just blend it with other fermented vegetables.