Friday, October 24, 2008


c2008 Shanna Ohmes

My first introduction to sauerkraut when I was growing up was a stinky slimy mess out of a can that messed up a perfectly good hot dog. I vowed I'd never touch that stuff again, but finally decided to give it a try after I learned about all the healthful benefits it has.

Sauerkraut is one of many lacto-fermented foods. These foods restore the healthy bacteria and flora into the intestines so they can do their job to keep us in good health.

Skeptical, I read and re-read the research on all the benefits of this supposedly wonderful food that I hated in my childhood and found a good recipe. It actually took me 2-3 years before I took the plunge and tried it.

I was totally surprised! This actually tasted good. It was nothing like I remembered from so long ago. I put my batch in a tall glass jar and admired the beauty of the fresh green color every time I opened my refrigerator. The taste was refreshing and blended so well with sausages, hot dogs, Reuben sandwiches, soups and salads. A few tablespoons a day will add a good amount of the good bacteria and vitamins into your diet.

The practice of lacto-fermenting vegetables has its roots in Europe, Rome and China going back 6,000 years. Sailors kept sauerkraut on ships to prevent scurvy on their long voyages. The Romans carried sauerkraut with them to protect against intestinal infections. Other vegetables can be lacto-fermented with the cabbage or separately, like turnips, beets and carrots. Some fruits can also be fermented. They are called chutneys.

The nutrients in sauerkraut are calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamins C, K, B6 and folate, as well as plenty of antioxidants. The fermentation process actually increases the value and availability of and digestibility of the vegetables and fruits.

How to make Sauerkraut:

1 cabbage
2 tbs. sea salt
glass quart canning jar

Chop the cabbage in small pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Pound and mash with a meat mallet for about 10 minutes.
You will see that some of the juices are released from the cabbage. Put the cabbage in your jar a little at a time, pressing firmly to keep the juices coming to the top of the cabbage.

Repeat until the cabbage and its juice come within one inch of the top. This gives enough room for expansion. If there is not enough juice, you can add a little bit of water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave on your cabinet for 3 days. Then store in your refrigerator or cellar.

You can start eating it immediately and it greatly improves with age. Mine tasted delicious in the beginning and only got better from then on. At 1 year the color started to fade, but the flavor was still excellant.


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