Digestive health is important and I’m a firm believer that the right kinds of food, really can be a panacea for everyone. At the same time “food glorious food” really is a joyous experience when the right combination of flavours and textures are brought together to play a symphony on your palate, so I certainly don’t advocate denying yourself the enjoyment of tasty food.
Ok so here’s the deal, I didn’t invent Sauerkraut; versions of it were invented as far back as 2000 years ago in China – the simplest of recipes – Cabbage and Salt. So what’s the big deal and why are fermented foods kind of the big secret health weapon?
Well apparently Sauerkraut is extremely high in vitamins C, B and K. In addition to that you get calcium, magnesium, dietary fibre, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese and the fermentation process, actually increases the bio-availability of the nutrients, which makes the humble cabbage even more nutrient dense, than it’s original, naked beginnings. Raw Sauerkraut also contains live Lactobacillus and is rich in enzymes. So it really is all set to boost your immunity and your digestive health, by promoting the growth of healthy flora in your gut and protecting you against many diseases of the digestive tract.
Ever had antibiotics in your lifetime? If the answer is yes, then it’s totally worth re-colonising these healthy gut-flora guys back into your system!
Hurrah to the “kraut!”
Now, you can buy Sauerkraut from various stores but that’s not fun, can be pricey, and the pasteurized ones have had all the good stuff killed off anyway! Also, why spend a fortune on shop bought pro-biotic tablets or pro-biotic (packed full of sugar) yoghurts, when it’s so easy to make your own yummy, pro-biotic packed, “Power-kraut!”
You can get yourself a proper Sauerkraut making crock pot, there are loads of styles online, but if like me you are so excited about getting started and you can’t possibly wait for delivery of one these fancy (sometimes expensive) pots – just dive in with gusto! Get yourself a cabbage red or white or why not one of each?
Some salt… I like Himalyan salt, bacuse it is unrefined and unprocessed and apparently it contains the full spectrum of 84 minerals and trace elements, which a lot of processed salts are missing.
I usually grind the salt up if I’ve bought the larger rocks… Now shred those cabbages finely, into long thin strips like this:
Or if you are short of time, throw it in a food processor, shred mode-styley like this:
If you want to be a bit adventurous and go the Bella’s Power-kraut route why not throw in some carrot (Vit A and Beta Carotene), Fennel (Vit C, Folate, and Potassium), a sprinkle of Juniper berries (high in Vit C and apparently lowers blood sugar, improves digestion and helps promote kidney health) and a few Star-Anise (contains antioxidant properties and is considered to be anti viral and anti fungal) for an extra awesome “Vit-hit!” Now in a large bowl, layer up the shredded veg with a good sprinkling of salt for each layer.
Pack the shredded, salt-layered veg down – really squash it (make sure you have clean hands and use cling-film as a barrier – it’s just less messy and more hygienic that way.) The salt will draw the moisture out of the veg and the lacto-fermentation process will begin:
You will see the liquid being drawn out as you squash it down… Put a small plate that fits the inside rim of the large bowl on top, this helps keep the air out and keep the pressure on. I find a weighty jar of rice helps keeps things nice and squashed down to. Then cover the whole lot in cling-film.
In warmer weather you will see the tell tail fermenting signals starting fairly quickly – a few little bubbles appearing up the side of the bowl within the first 12 hours; it might take longer if things are a little cooler. All you need to do is check on it every couple of days, making sure it is well squashed and you should see more liquid drawn out, starting to rise above the line of the cabbage. It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks for your Sauerkraut to be ready. How you know if it is “ripe,” is by giving it regular taste tests around the end of week two. The texture of the vegetables will have softened and the taste will be tangy, a hint of vinegar and mellow saltiness. At the point you feel it has reached, it’s prime in the taste department, jar it up and it will keep in the fridge for several months – if it lasts that long! 😉
It is a unique flavour but goes oh-so well with slices of ham or smoked Mackerel. Get inspired and shred some cabbage! Power to the “Kraut!” 🙂