Sauerkraut, A Probiotic Powerhouse

In past blogs, I’ve talked about the importance of probiotics. They add another layer to our healing or wellness process. They prime our immune system and nourish the good bacteria in our gut. You will notice different types of probiotics will be more effective than others. Their effectiveness depends on your body and your unique gut bacteria. Remember introducing yourself to a new probiotic should be a gradual process. For example, downing a kombucha when you have never introduced it to your body, may cause uncomfortableness, bloating, or diarrhea. I would try a little serving for a few days, then go from there. Your body will adapt better through a slower introduction, and you will enjoy the health benefits.

There are great “shelf-stable” supplements, but I also encourage you to dabble in fermented foods also. Truly fermented foods have to ferment at room temperature. You don’t use vinegar. Many products like sauerkraut that are in the grocery store, are made with vinegar. Those will not give you the live cultures (probiotics) you need. Making them at home is sometimes a challenge because I work full-time and homeschool 2 kids, but it is worth the effort. I know exactly what is in my recipes. I know it’s organic, naturally fermented, and much cheaper.

You will notice that most probiotics have a sour taste. Hopefully, you can learn to enjoy that. I grew up in the Greek culture, and we put lemon on everything green. Sour is not a problem for me.

Today, I’d like to share my sauerkraut recipe. My kids do not like the coriander or other large seasonings in their sauerkraut. I make mine very simply with a basic flavor, but you can research more types of seasonings on-line if you would like.

My daughter started making sauerkraut for me when I was too weak to make it. She was 10 and she experimented with different recipes on-line. She also used to cut up all the cabbage by hand. Since then, I bought a ninja blender with a food processor bowl and blades. I bought one that had a 1500 watt motor or higher. I love this product. I use the food processor and slice attachment for the cabbage. I use the regular blade to dice the onions. This makes it a lot less labor intensive, especially if you are not well.

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Ingredients:

1 Organic cabbage head

2-3 Organic garlic cloves

½ Organic onion

1 ½ Tbls of Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

Slice the cabbage thin or use the slicing blade in your ninja.

Dice onions by hand or use the regular blade to chop.

Press the garlic cloves in a garlic press.

Mix cabbage, onions, and garlic together.

Add Himalayan pink salt and start working it through your mix. Squeeze as you mix the salt in. The salt will start releasing the water from the cabbage. You will feel the mix becoming wetter. Mix it for a good 5 minutes or so. It should be pretty wet by the time you are done. When you are done, place the mix in a large glass jar and push the mix down, pressing it into the bottom of the jar. Put a washcloth on top of the jar and rubber band the washcloth to the jar. This will allow air to pass in and out of the jar for fermentation, but not allow foreign objects in. The water from the cabbage should cover the top of the cabbage. If not, continue to press it down frequently over the next 24 hours until it does. Most of the time the water will cover the cabbage on its own. If not, you can add a little water to the top. (I found out the importance of this last week because the sauerkraut molded on top due to the low water level.) I didn’t check it like I usually do.

Depending on the climate in your area, your sauerkraut will ferment faster or slower. My sauerkraut ferments anywhere from 3 days to a full week, depending on the season of the year. You can taste a little bit of it to see if it’s ready. If it’s not sour enough, let it ferment longer. Refrigerate sauerkraut when it is done fermenting.

It does have an odor, so be prepared that everyone may not be accustomed to it. I have funny stories of apologizing to the cable guy because of the smell. I have taken sauerkraut to eat on lunch break at work as well, and there is no hiding that. I guess it opens the door for great probiotic discussions.

I have lots of sauerkraut uses. Not only is it great on organic hot dogs or hamburgers, it is great as a sandwich substitute. Since I can’t have bread, I often put a layer of sauerkraut on the bottom of a bowl and add a pouch of wild-caught tuna to the top or shredded chicken. I’ve also added it to spinach salads. Sometimes I eat it plain as well.

Here’s an interesting article that talks about the benefits of sauerkraut as well: http://www.nourishingplot.com/2014/06/21/sauerkraut-test-divulges-shocking-probiotic-count/ states: “In The Gluten Summit, 2013, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, told Dr. Tom O’Bryan, ‘With every mouthful of sauerkraut you’re consuming billions of beneficial microbes which will be killing the pathogens in your gut driving them out and replenishing the beneficial flora in your digestive tract.’

I hope this blog post is helpful and encourages you to start experimenting. Remember 3 different kinds of probiotic sources per day is optimal for better gut health.

Happy Fermenting!

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