Fermented Foods: Supporting the System Naturally

This past fall I took a class on pickling and fermentation. While I have been a long time consumer of fermented foods, I had forgotten their phenomenal health benefits. Fermented foods are helpful in supporting any number of gut related issues and help to restore natural bacteria to the system that often get depleted through our consumption of pre-prepared foods. What struck me most about this class was how easy it was to make your own fermented veggies at home. I have since started several batches of ferments and look forward to enjoying them and exploring new recipes. I have included a very simple Mason Jar Sauerkraut recipe below (courtesy of Seattle Tilth Association). Enjoy!!

 Ingredients
5-6 lbs. green head cabbage
3 Tbsp. salt

Preparation
Wash hands throughly! Then wash cabbage (you can substitute other vegetables for 1-2 lbs, including carrots, beets, turnips, hearty greens) and pull off and save 1-2 whole leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the core. Finely shred the cabbage into a large bowl. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. salt over cabbage.

Using very clean hands, massage the salt into the cabbage. Use a good amount of pressure. The goal is to break down the structure of the cabbage and release a lot of the juices. When the cabbage is soft and a fair amount of liquid has been released, pack it tightly into 2-3 quarter sized mason jars. Pack about 1-2 inches at a time to ensure the jar is packed firmly. Liquid should start to rise to the top. Any leftover liquid at the bottom of the bowl can be poured in to top of the jars.

Take the whole cabbage leaves reserved from the beginning, and tear them to fit into the jar on top of the packed cabbage. The goal is use the cabbage leaf to keep all the shredded bits submerged under water.

Find something to weigh down the cabbage flat. You can use a pint class filled with water or any other item that will hep keep the sauerkraut below the water line. Put your jars on a dish to catch any liquid that bubbles up.

Wait, in warm weather it may take a week, in cooler weather even longer. If you start to see a white colored scum, take off your weight and flap, skim off any scum you see. Rinse the cabbage flap and weight and replace them. Start tasting your sauerkraut after about a week. When it tastes tangy and delicious, refrigerate to halt fermentation.

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