As we move closer to winter and the onset of the cold and flu season it is important to eat to boost your immune system and with this in mind I have been incorporating more fermented foods into my diet.
Did you know that there are 10 times more bacteria inside your body than there are cells that make up your body?
Keeping the right balance of good to bad bacteria is the first step to improving both immunity and and balancing digestion and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut introduces beneficial bacteria into the body.
The anaerobic process of fermentation also increases the nutrient content of the the food as individual nutrients are released from plant sugars and cellulose to become more available to the body. The amount of bioavailable vitamin C in sauerkraut for example is 20 times that of raw cabbage.
Having eaten my way through an expensive jar of sauerkraut from the refrigerator at the health food store I decided to have a go at making my own. It is very easy process and becomes more fun when you get together with friends. I enjoyed all the chatting while vegetable chopping! We made two jars of sauerkraut, one with red cabbage and caraway seeds and one white cabbage and added chilli. We then branched out to pickle carrot and kohl rabi sticks with fresh dill.
First gather all your ingredients together along with a good knife and a chopping board. We also set our mason jars to run through a hot wash in the dishwasher so that they would be sterilized when we needed them.
We used 1/2 of an enormous white cabbage and 1/2 of a large red cabbage to make four jars of sauerkraut with two of each colour, a 1/2lb bag of local carrots, 1lb of peeled kohlrabi, 2 large red chillis, a large bunch of dill, 2 cloves of Alberta grown garlic and 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds. Reserve one or two cabbage leaves from the outside of the cabbage to use later.
Chop the cabbages into thin slices the size that you want to see them in the jar. Then also cut the carrots and kohlrabi into batons that will fit into a .
Once the cabbage was finely chopped place it in a large glass bowl with 2 tbsp of sea salt and massage the cabbage with your bare hands until it begins to release water. After about 5 minutes there will be plenty of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Mix 2 tbsp caraway seeds into the red cabbage and 1 large grated carrot and a finely chopped large red chilli to the white cabbage to make a more spicy Kimchi inspired sauerkraut.
Press the cabbage into a quart size mason jar pressing down hard to release more liquid then top up the jar with the liquid released into the bottom of the bowl whilst massaging the cabbage. Cover the chopped cabbage with the reserved cabbage leaf and press down again so that everything is submerged beneath the briny liquid. The fermentation process is anaerobic and should happen under water.
Pack your carrot and kohlrabi batons into separate jars. If you like garlic then sliced garlic can be added down the side of the jar. Top each jar off with a big handful of fresh dill. In a clean glass measuring jug, make a brine using 3 cups of water to 2 tbsp of sea salt. Pour the brine over the carrot or kohlrabi batons until they are covered.
Leave all of the jars in a cool dark place for 1 week without sealing the lid. (I placed them in a cupboard in my laundry room where they would not be disturbed). Check that all of the vegetables are submerged in the brine, adding more brine if necessary and removing any mold or growth from the surface. Leave the sauerkraut sit for two weeks with the lid on before moving to the refrigerator where it will last for several months.
Enjoy the friendly probiotic bacteria in your sauerkraut with a sharp cheddar cheese or scrambled eggs. Tuck sauerkraut into a wrap with hummus and greens or add a tbsp to a salad. Your immunity and digestive system will thank you.
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