I would like to share with you our saga of making homemade sauerkraut and how we found the best recipe and tools to use to make a delicious and nutritious sauerkraut filled with lacto-fermented bacteria. Cabbage itself has many health benefits and when fermented it is absolutely wonderful way to achieve a healthy digestive system that supports the health of the whole body. I can truly say that my family has become “cabbage heads!”
This all started with recommendation from my doctor to eat sauerkraut or fermented raw cabbage to help heal my digestive system. I tried everywhere to find organic raw cabbage or organic sauerkraut and I did find it but it always had extra ingredients in it, probably for flavoring. I wanted just plain sauerkraut, because I have many food allergies. So my husband (being the brilliant man he is, at least sometimes — please don’t tell him I said that or his head will get swollen, you know how men egos are) suggesting trying making our own since he grew up in a family with 10 kids and his mother made lots of sauerkraut every fall for winter time eating!
We decided that this might just be worth a shot! I started searching the internet and some cookbooks to find the perfect recipe and made some of our own provisions to fit out personal taste.
My mother and sister helped us with our first try in our endeavor to make sauerkraut. We used one of my Mother’s stoneware crocks which she had stored in her attic, then used some organic and some local harvest cabbage, which I have eaten since it has been in season. We tried using my sister food processor to shred the cabbage but it did not work well, it made a big mess and shredded the cabbage too fine for our taste. We decided to just cut it up with a plain knife and it actually took less time then the food processor did.
We only made one crock for the first try, but it turned out great. We ate some, I keep some of the raw fermented cabbage in the refrigerator and then cooked the rest and canned it in pint mason jars. Since we had learned a lot, found out it wasn’t hard to do, and found some short cuts in the meantime.
Last week we when out and purchased 7 very large heads of local harvest cabbage for our second batch of homemade sauerkraut. We decided to purchase a large 6 gallon crock from Craigslist at a very good price so we could make a larger batch. We also found out that using our Kitchen Aid mixer with the attachment — No. 6 thick slice shreds the cabbage quickly, efficiently, and helps it produce more juice.
- 5 Pounds Cabbage (approximately 2 medium-sized heads)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons coarse unrefined sea salt
- A stoneware crock
- 1 plate that fits snugly inside the crock
- A brick or something to weigh the plate down
- A cooler or food grade plastic bucket to mix the sauerkraut in.
1. Shred cabbage and place in the bowl or crock you will be fermenting in. Toss with the salt and cover with some kitchen towels. Leave for 15 minutes to an hour to allow the salt to draw out the juices of the cabbage. This is the secret that makes this recipe pound free.
2. Press and pound down gently with a mallet, potato masher, or use your hand so that it’s tight fitting in the bowl. Place the clean plate on top and weigh it down brick (we put inside a ziplock bag) or weight. Press down gently, but firmly. The liquid from the cabbage should rise to the top. You will want the liquid to cover the plate with room to spare within in 12-24 hours. If it hasn’t risen above the plate by that point, make up some salt water my mixing one cup of filtered water with one teaspoon of sea salt and use as much as you need. Cover with kitchen towels to protect from dust and dirt.
3. Check it every day by removing the plate the plate, and rinse it. If there is any scum (we had no trouble with ours producing “scum”) on the surface of the water, remove as you much of it as you can with a spoon. After a few days you can try tasting it and it will continue to ripen more every day depending on the temperature of your house — when its to your likening, then it is done. We let our go about 2 weeks. You have control over when you want to stop the fermentation process.
4. When it’s fermented enough for your taste you can put it in mason jars and refrigerate it, it will keep for months. Or you can cook it, preserve in mason jars for a great meal in the cold of winter.
Cabbage, from the cruciferous family of vegetables has many health benefits:
- Believed to lower cholesterol levels.
- High in vitamins A and C.
- A rich source of phytonutrient antioxidants to help fight disease, help combat cancer, and support the immune system.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- High in fiber that promotes healthy digestion.
Note: The commercial sauerkraut that you buy in the grocery store has been pasteurized, the heat has caused it to lose most of the healthy bacteria and is very high is sodium. Another fact is that many brands are just made from adding vinegar so you get very little if any health benefits from it. Check out the labels.
Fermented cabbage or sauerkraut health benefits:
- Fermentation produces enzymes and the healthy bacteria that helps the body digest foods easier, absorb valuable nutrients, may help reduce irritable bowel syndrome, skin disorders, and risk of heart disease.
- Sauerkraut also contains vitamins and minerals—and is especially rich in vitamin C.
- Sauerkraut contains lactic acid and has natural probiotics which aids in healthy digestion and may help prevent the diarrhea that often results from intestines and bowels that are not working properly. Read — “Why You Need Those Friendly Guys in Your Body–Probiotics?”
- When the cabbage is fermented to make sauerkraut, it produces substances called isothiocyanates, which may help prevent tumors.
- More information 11 Steps To Get Your Gut Right!
We need to make everyday a healthy day. Eating properly is so important to staying healthy. We have to make the right choices and make sure that we use the best resources we have available to keep our families on the journey to good health. Live a green, natural and healthy lifestyle by making your own products, be economical and protecting the future of our children and planet.
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