Gut check! Sauerkraut and Fermented Foods! It’s So Vogue.

 

I’m here to tell you, sauerkraut and fermented food are so vogue. An ancient practice and one the rest of the world does quite often. Learning how to make your own at home is easy and has literally changed my life! It would be an understatement for me to say that my love for food has gone to a whole new level by introducing these fermented foods into our family’s meals.

Lacto Fermented Cabbage

Lacto Fermented Cabbage

“Tah heck” with purchasing over the counter probiotics. Naturally occurring probiotics found by fermenting can reach in the trillions! Healthy gut = happy life! Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is a great place to start if you’re new to all this. That said, a quick YouTube video or this “how to make sauerkraut” video is also a great place to start. In 5 minutes you’ll be an old pro! My quick intro BeicaKraut recipe can be found at the end of this post.

I remember growing up and being asked by the older relatives, “do you want some sauerkraut on that dog?” My first response was, “no way, that stuff is nasty!” Being a product of the ’80s certainly didn’t come without it’s deficits (when it came to food). We have gotten SO FAR away from real food. Food that makes us feel good. Food that replenishes our souls!

Enter lacto fermented foods (glorious rays of light from the heavens and trumpets please).

A brief history and science behind all this stuff…. excerpts from http://ohlardy.com/the-science-and-history-of-culturing-foods

Our ancient ancestors from around the world fermented foods as a way to preserve. Little did they know, it was (and still is) a vital element often missing from out modern S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Our ancient peeps were doing this way back when – as long as 4,500 years ago, or longer.

Common Cultured Foods from Around the World:

  • Sauerkraut (Europe) 
  • Kimchi (Korea) 
  • Cortido (South America) 
  • Pickled Vegetables (Japan)
  • Sourdough (we’ll leave this one “off the list” for us Paleo folks) :)
  • Kvass (Russia) This is a traditional “soda” and very low in alcohol content
  • Kombucha 
  • Ginger beer 
  • Kaffir Beer (South Africa) 
  • Pulque (Mexico) 

Many of the ancient herding nomadic tribes developed the ability to ferment the herd’s raw dairy into many different products we know today.

Some examples of fermented dairy are: Yogurt (Bulgaria), Kefir (Russia, Turkey), Koumiss (Russia), Laban (Middle East), Dahi (India), Creme Fraiche (Europe)Sour Cream, Sour or cultured butter (Europe), Cream Cheese or Yogurt Cheese, and Piima (Finland) to name a few. 

What exactly is fermenting (or culturing)? Fermentation is actually a sort of pre-digestion that takes place when naturally present bacteria, usually of the lactobaccillus or bifidus strains, (or sometimes yeasts) begin breaking down the sugars and starches in the food.

As these bacteria divide, the process forms lactic acid (and sometimes acetic acid or alcohol which halts the growth of the ‘bad’ or putrefying bacteria. This acid is also responsible for the sour taste that comes along with fermented foods.

As long as the foods are kept under a brine or a liquid, and in cool storage (a root cellar, for example) the product will last for months and months, sometimes years. 

Fermentation has many benefits in addition to being a great preservation technique.

  • Fermented foods are more digestible and have increased vitamin levels.
  • Fermentation can also create new nutrients, particularly B-vitamins.
  • Fermentation helps keep our guts full of ‘good’ bacteria.
  • The lactic acid encourages the growth of healthy microbiota in our intestinal tract.
  • Fermented grains can neutralize the anti-nutrient phytic acid naturally present in grains.
  • Fermented foods can help boost our immunity.
  • Cultured foods can curb cravings for sweets and other overly processed foods.

Unfortunately, the typical American diet does not consist of many (if any) fermented foods.  Most people eat a diet full of overly processed, sugar and additive laden, non-nutritious foods that are destroying the bacteria in their intestinal tract.

TODAY, foods are preserved in different ways (pickling with vinegar and canning for example) so the good bacteria is sadly, no longer present

As mentioned, serving of fermented food can contain trillions of probiotics!  That is equal to an entire jar of an expensive over the counter probiotic capsules!

So, what are you waiting for?! Fall in love with fermented foods! It’s so in vogue. Here’s how to get your started. Just remember, there are 100s of ways to do it, but this is the most basic and easiest way to start.

“BeicaKraut” – Quick Fermented Cabbage

  • 2-3 medium sized heads of cabbage (I like to mix purple and green) about 5lbs
  • 3-4 tablespoons of salt (if you have a little more than 5lbs, add a little more salt, that easy
  • 1-2 large canning jars 
  1. Chop or shred cabbage (again, there’s no hard fast rule – thin or thick it’s up to you)
  2. I tend to “layer” my cabbage and salt in a LARGE mixing bowl – maybe a half a head chopped at a time and sprinkle salt over the top of each layer as you go
  3. once finished with layers and salting, message with hands the mixture. Really squeeze and press the cabbage with your hands…this gets the salt all mixed in and starts the “water pulling process.”
  4. after you’ve messaged well, press down firmly and make an even level. Put a plate or cover with foil and let sit for a couple hours on the counter – this ensures all the water will be pulled out.
  5. From here, start cramming into mason jars (make sure they’re sterile for safety, though I’ve not worried too much personally). This recipe came from a South African woman who did a time lapse video on a counter and the kitchen was very primitive and “unsanitary” …so again, I don’t worry too much about this. We’re making probiotics folks!
  6. Once almost filled to the top, leaving about 3/4″ of air gap, push the remaining mix under the water line. To ensure the mix stays below the water, I use either a lid of a plastic food grade container or a rock to hold the mix down. Tip: if you’re ok with the use of plastic (i’m 50/50 on this) cut a food grade lid that’s a bit larger than the glass mason jar lid. Slip it into the jar on top of your mix and push down until the lid expands larger. This acts like a “cork” and keeps things down nicely.
  7. After 3-4 days on the counter (you’ll see the bubbles and goodness forming), you can move to a dark cool shelf or just leave on the counter away from direct sunlight. Let sit there for a week or two. I’ve actually seen one time lapse video recipe in South Africa where they left the jars on the counter for 4 weeks before eating. I’ve tried this also and had great results during the winter months. After the week or two, move to the refrigerator and start enjoying!
  8. Lastly, experiment with just about any vegetable you like. Get creative! 
    Sardines with Fermented Lemons, avocado, and BeicaKraut

    Sardines with fermented lemons, avocado, and BeicaKraut

As I said in the beginning, fermenting vegetables has added a whole new dimension to my love for food. It has changed my life: I feel more connected to these foods, it’s improved my gut flora and added healthy probiotics in the process, and things just taste more yummy when used as a condiment or side. 

If you have a favorite lacto fermented food recipe, please share and spread the word! “Because I can,” you too can do this! It’s fun and easy and great for your family’s overall wellness.

To your health,

Craig

 

 

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