Monday, 10 March 2014

Homemade Sauerkraut

image taken from

"Green and purple varieties: slightly warming thermal nature; sweet-and-pungent flavour; mucilaginous; moistens the intestines; benefits the stomach; improves digestion; and is used in many cultures to benefit the skin. Is also used for treating constipation, the common cold, whooping cough (cabbage soup or tea), frostbite (body temperature wash of cabbage tea), mental depression and irritability; helps rid the digestive system of worms (take cabbage with garlic for greater effectiveness against parasites). Contains vitamin U, an ulcer remedy. For either stomach or duodenal ulcers, drink one-half cupful of freshly made cabbage juice two or three times a day between meals. Continue for at least two weeks even though symptoms may disappear sooner. If too pungent-tasting, mix with celery juice.
Cabbage owes many of its healing properties to its abundant sulfur content (sulfur is warming, destroys parasites, and purifies the blood).
When eaten and simultaneously used as a poultice, cabbage treats skin eruptions, leg ulcers, varicose veins, arthritis, and wounds; eating cabbage regularly helps overcome chronic cold feet. To make a poultice, grate the cabbage, mix it with water, and wrap it onto the effected area with a cloth. Another method is to bruise the leaves and wrap these on directly. This method of application was used by a yoga teacher we know in Switzerland who severely cut her leg in a skiing accident; gangrene set in and her doctors recommended amputation. Instead she used continual cabbage poultices and ate a great deal of raw cabbage daily. The wound healed rapidly.
Cabbage contains iodine and is a rich source of vitamin C (more C than oranges); the outer leaves are concentrated in Vitamin E and contain at least a third more calcium than the inner leaves. Cabbage in the form or raw sauerkraut is excellent for cleansing and rejuvenating the digestive tract, improving the intestinal flora, and treating difficult cases of constipation.
Compared with round head-head cabbage, Chinese (Napa) cabbage has neither a pungent nor warm thermal nature; it is cooling with a sweet flavour and is useful for many kinds of inflammations, yellow mucus discharges, and all other ailments that have heat symptoms. It also moistens the intestines and treats constipation. Chinese cabbage contains just 20% of the sulfur of round head types. Studies indicate several of the cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts) inhibit cancerous growth in the learge intestines."

-Excerpt from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchfod



Cabbage is a powerhouse of nutrition and like other Brassica member families is often overlooked in peoples eating style due to its unpleasant smell and taste. We know it is great for our bodies yet getting it in daily can be a challenge. A way round this is to process the cabbage via fermentation which increases massively the flavour and nutrition uptake in our bodies. Problem solved.

Pages and pages have been written on fermented vegetables extolling their benefits for human health and explaining their long use in many cultures as both food and medicine. So to keep it short and to summarise, and in doing so save you much time and money ; have one daily serving (one palm size full) of raw organic unpasteurised sauerkraut and your health will transform dramatically. Easy. For those seeking more in depth explanations do explore the further reading links provided at the bottom of this page.

A note on store bought sauerkraut's. Dont waste your money or your time and just make your own. Most are pasteurised, nullifying their pro-biotic benefits, and contain questionable additives. Acetic acid anyone? No me neither. In saying this there are some companies which are worth investing in such as Raw Health or  Rejuvenative foods. So do give them a go if you are challenged for time or want to test the water so to speak on flavour before diving in and making your own. Again though nothing compares to home made for health and taste. 



True sauerkraut as I understand is just three simple ingredients; cabbage, salt and caraway seeds. I prefer to mix things up a little though to add more variety, flavour and nutrition. So what follows is my interpretation of sauerkraut.
*1 pound (500 grams) organic purple and/or red cabbage
*1 pound (500 grams) of assorted seasonal organic vegetables (This morning I used, Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac, black kale and baby beetroots)
*200 grams of dried and washed seaweed (I like dulse)
*1 teaspoon of sun dried sea salt
*Fermentation agent/starter. Choose from either; 1tsp of probiotic powder, 1 tablespoon of organic raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or 1 teaspoon of organic live unpasteurized miso. I used a combination of the three.



Using a food processor (and/or grater, mandolin, knife) grate and chop cabbage and vegetables into small fine pieces. Add chopped vegetables to a large glass mixing bowl with salt and massage thoroughly for 5-10 minutes until vegetables soften and release their water. Correct massage technique can be found here. When softened add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly and pack tightly into a glass jar such as the one found here. An old jam jar can be used too. Essentially anything made of glass that can be closed is good to use, just dont use plastic as it leaches into the food during fermentation.


Then What?

This is where the agreed path tends to split in fermentation circles in regard to how to store your sauerkraut. Some people say the vegetables must be completely submerged by their own juices to stop mold growing on top. Others go for a no sink method leaving the vegetables as they are, floating above or in their own juice scraping the mold of the top when ready if it has formed during fermentation and eating what is underneath. My own choice is to compact the veggies as much as possible in their own juices and then if they do mold I just scrape this off and eat whats underneath. Do experiment with the different styles to find your own flow. If they do mold on top do not panic and throw out the whole lot, just scrape this layer off and eat whats underneath, it is perfectly fine. If the mold is to much to bear then just make sure the cabbage is submerged under liquid for the complete fermentation cycle, either via a weight on top pressing down on the veg (such as a clean rock or another jar), or you can top the jar up with water to completely cover the vegetables.


How long to ferment for?

Again another heated topic. Really there is no exact time as to when your sauerkraut is ready due to multiple factors such as ambient temperature (based on your local), quantity of salt used, how tightly vegetables are packed and one of the most important ones your particular flavour preference. So what I tell people is to ferment for a minimum of one week and then taste. If the vegetables have a slight tang to them then you can be sure they have begun to ferment and are good to begin to eat. As you leave them longer they will develop more complex and interesting flavours. Again experiment till you find your own perfect combination.


Further Reading

For the enthusiastically and inquisitively minded amongst us, do dive in deep till your heart is content at the following links:

*The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
*Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and she discusses all of the important information about gut and psychology syndrome and the autism in children.

*Doms Kefir Site

*Cultures For Health

*The Body Ecology Diet

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