Last week I took a few minutes out of my day I made sauerkraut (with no vinegar whatsoever). I had a green cabbage from a local farm. I shredded it, added salt and whey, and mixed it up a bit and pounded it (very meditative to pound a cruciferous vegetable, let me tell you). Was called away and forgot about it. A few hours later I mixed it and pounded some more and packed it into jars, and left them on the counter for three days. Voila! After about 20 minutes work, I have sauerkraut!
Like most people in the US today, the first time I ate sauerkraut it was out of one of those jars from the store. The manufacturer makes the sauerkraut, adds preservatives and then pasteurizes the kraut, which kills any beneficial bacteria that ever lived in it. Plus, it doesn't taste as good as homemade, it's usually mushy, yuck! When I was a kid, I called the stuff ‘sour crap' to annoy my family members. As an adult, I did like it occasionally on a hot dog. But never with anything else.
Then I made the sauerkraut out of Nourishing Traditions. I was a bit scared to eat it when it was done… I mean, I left FOOD on the counter for three days! And then I'm supposed to eat it? But I took a tiny bite, and it was surprisingly good, with a crunch that I wasn't used to in sauerkraut. Plus it made me feel good! Pretty soon I was eating it with all sorts of things.
Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
It's actually amazing how much sauerkraut can help with a low carb / paleo / keto diet. For one thing, vitamin C is formed during the fermentation process. Sometimes it can be difficult to get vitamin C unless one is eating fruit, but this provides a lower carb way! Any lacto-fermented vegetable can aid in digestion, provide extra nutrients, and help digest meats or other foods. It's full of “good bacteria” and will also help if you've had constipation when starting your diet.
For more info on why unpasteurized sauerkraut is so good for you, please see this article from the Weston A Price foundation web site.
Until then, happy sauerkraut making! And let me know what you put in yours. I'm thinking of combining mine with the ginger carrots, yum.
Makes about 1 quart (depending on the size of the cabbage)
- 1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 T caraway seeds (optional)
- up to 1 T celtic sea salt – I have used only 2 teaspoons of sea salt (using whey also) and had success
- 4 T whey (optional: for a casein/dairy free recipe, omit and use twice the sea salt)
In a large bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, salt and whey. Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer or just squeeze with your hands (this is actually very soothing and meditative) for about 10 minutes to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage (fridge, cellar, or cold basement). The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age.
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