Probiotics are great for your health. Have you heard? They add good bacteria to your intestines, improving digestion, and preventing constipation. They also naturally boost your immunity, and improve the absorption of nutrients.
But, it isn’t always easy to find a good source. You can buy probiotic supplements, but there is no guarantee that you are getting what you are paying for.
A better choice is to drink kombucha or kefir, or eat kimchi or sauerkraut as a source of healthy bacteria. What is important, though, is that it is not processed. The sauerkraut you buy in a can, or even in the refrigerated section, has been pasteurized, killing the good bacteria. Unless it specifically says “fermented” on the label. Natural food stores do carry some non-pasturized sauerkraut, if you aren’t up to the task of doing it yourself.
But, its so easy! I made my own, and it was better than anything I had bought before.
I took a class locally. It was fun to work together to make our first batch. The hardest part was cutting all the cabbage. It could have been therapeutic, but I was stressing about not cutting it finely enough. Our instructor was a skilled chef, so his cabbage looked like it had been through a shredder. One of the ladies in the class had a mandolin, and we were all jealous. Not only was she the first one to be finished, but her cuts were all perfectly uniform. I think I may need to get one of those.
I missed the memo about getting an airlock for the jar. Everyone else had one, so I was concerned that I would have mold or some other problem with my sauerkraut. As the cabbage ferments, carbon dioxide builds up in the jar. If I neglected to “burp” the jar every day or so, by quickly opening and closing the jar, too much pressure could create a mess.
I feared shattered glass and smelly cabbage when we went away for a long weekend. So, I took my jar with me. Next time, I will make sure I will be home for the full month I am brewing my sauerkraut.
And, there will be a next time. It was very satisfying to make it myself, and it does taste delicious. Also, since I had no problem at all with mold, I don’t plan to get an airlock for my fermenting jar. You may not want to give your “brew” so much attention. In which case, a set up can be found on Amazon.
Here are the instructions that I followed:
1. Cut 3 pounds of cabbage, reserving one large leaf.
2. Massage the cabbage with 1 1/2 tsp salt until approximately 1/2 cup of water is released. This is like magic! As you squeeze and stir the cabbage with your bare hands, it reduces in size and releases liquid.
3. Pack it into a 1/2 gallon jar. Tamp it down as tight as you can, being careful to get as much as you can off the sides of the jar.
4. Cover the top with the reserved leaf.
5. Weigh down with an empty 8 ounce jar. The smaller jar will need to fit inside the larger one when closed. Using a tamper, push the small jar into the cabbage until the liquid almost covers the jar.
6. Put the lid on and keep in a dark place, or covered for one month.
7. If you don’t have an airlock, burp the jar every 24 to 48 hours. I made sure to do this every 24 to 36 hours to be on the safe side.
That’s it! After 4 weeks, you will have finished sauerkraut. If mold does grow, just remove it. It just means too much air got into the jar. In the past it was made in crocks, and was expected to grow mold. Some people still do make it this way. This method seems more sanitary to me, but I’m sure the crocks work great.
How do you get your probiotics? Do you think you will try making some sauerkraut?