The beginning of Spring has sprung in Sydney. There is that feeling in the air that creations have got the currents of new energy behind them. I’m working on a juicy project that is so exciting, yet I have to be careful not to fall into its complexity. Rather I need to fortify the basics well and let the details sort themselves out.
This is what I do with my patients too. It’s easy for health to seem like an untangle-able ball of yarn, especially if you’ve been on a long, hard road with health struggles. Returning to the basics can be a refreshing elixir. If our internal roots and soil are being taken care of, it’s amazing how many other things fall into place.
Last week I shared the basics of digestive healing. If you experience regular digestive discomfort, following those guidelines makes a powerful difference. In keeping with the theme of soil and simplicity, I’m sharing with you my sauerkraut recipe. The food that nourishes our internal soil; our microbiome.
Why eat sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is ultimate gut healing food and is a brilliant addition to everyone’s diet, particularly those who experience digestive system challenges. It’s a member of what I like to call ‘elemental basics’: ancestral foods that have been largely lost to modern living yet offer so much to our health (check out my bone broth post for more on this). It’s brimming with beneficial bacteria and the cabbage itself is rich in a gut healing protein called glutamine. You can add healing herbs and spices to support your body in whatever way it is needing.
The recipe below will create enough for about two large jars of sauerkraut. You can make it in larger batches too. Making your own is easy and makes eating it daily so much more affordable.
- 1 large bowl or food grade bucket
- 1 plate that snuggly fits the bowl/bucket
- pounding device (meat hammer, rolling pin, pestle etc.)
- 1 head of cabbage, red or green, shredded
- good quality salt, such as Celtic or river salt
Optional medicinal extras:
- For calming the digestion: caraway seeds or fennel seeds and grated ginger, dill or fennel tops
- For firing up the appetite: umeboshi plum paste
- For softening cysts and supporting your thyroid: seaweed, soaked and cut into thin slices
- Anti-inflammatory: grated ginger and turmeric
Part 1: Prep the Cabbage
- Boil some water and fill the bowl you are going to use to ferment the sauerkraut. After a few minutes, pour out water.
- Place a couple of handfuls of shredded cabbage into the bowl. For every cup of cabbage, add two teaspoons of salt.
- Pound well with a wooden pounder/meat hammer/rolling pin (anything that will serve the purpose of pounding!). You want to pound enough so that you bruise all their cell membranes and release their juices.
- Add the next round of shredded cabbage and salt and repeat pounding. Continue these steps until you have used all your cabbage. African drumming music recommended for this part!
Part 2: Tuck it Away to Ferment
- With a spatula, wipe down all the sides of the bowl. Find a plate that fits over the top of the sauerkraut – this is important because you want to create a completely oxygen free environment. If there are gaps around the side, the sauerkraut will rot rather than ferment.
- Push the plate down with force, so that the fluid released from the cabbage rises above the plate. This will create a perfect seal.
- If not enough juices are rising, either pound a bit more and try again. Or pour some boiled water over the plate to create the seal.
- Place a heavy weight on top of the plate. As it ferments, more juices release, and you’ll notice the fluid level rise. This is very good. Wrap in a tea towel and set aside.
Part 3: Patience
- Check on your kraut every few days. Don’t be alarmed if mould is forming in the liquid; because the vegetables are sealed off, it won’t affect them. Pour off the liquid, wipe down the sides and refill with freshly boiled water.
- After 8 – 10 days your kraut should be ready. If you live in a cold climate, it may take longer. If you’re in the tropics, it may be shorter.
- Holding plate down, pour off the liquid and have a taste, if it is not sour enough for you give it a couple more days.
Part 4: Bottle Up
When ready, spoon the sauerkraut into sterilised jars and cap. You can store these in the pantry for up to a year, but once you have opened them store in the fridge.
How to eat sauerkraut?
Traditionally sauerkraut was added as a side to most meals, especially if it contains meat. I like it on toasted sourdough, avocado and cracked pepper, in Buddah bowls, on jacket baked potatoes or as a garnish to any Asian inspired dish. It’s versatile, so sneak it in in unexpected places.