Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sauerkraut: The old school probiotic super-food (recipes included)

Sauerkraut was my first step into the fermenting world.  It is extremely easy and forgiving in my opinion.  It's also still my favorite fermented condiment!  I add it to sandwiches, eggs, rice, hummus and just eat it plain.  Both of my kids like it, one of them absolutely loves it.  It is full of helpful microbes that aid in digestion.  Not only is it great for your digestive flora, it may help prevent cancer!  Check out this article if you are interested in some details.

Here are a few more articles that could help excite you about the health benefits.

I do think whole food is the best preventative maintenance you can do for your body.  This is why I share these tutorials, I hope for a better future with less disease.  Instead of eating so much refined and/or sanitary dead things, lets all try  to implement more raw and living food.  Our bodies really appreciate it, I feel the difference!

Most grocery stores only carry pasteurized sauerkraut.  They create this beneficial great probiotic food and then boil everything till it's dead (for our health -- what a joke).  This defeats the point of eating sauerkraut for any health reasons.  The taste of raw vs pasteurized kraut is substantial as well.  It took me one taste to be hooked, now store pasteurized kraut is pretty terrible to me.

I worried about having moldy ruined food, or poisoning myself in the beginning.  My first attempts were using a method that I find vastly inferior.  I had about a 65% success rate.  35% of the time I had mold growing at the top and had off flavors seep into the liquids.  The method I use now has had 100% success rate so far.  I have made about eight 1/2 gallon jars with no botched batches, no mold at all.  I made another four jars for this tutorial, because I'm running low.

This technique does require some baby sitting, you can't just make it and ignore it.  You will need to check on it 2x a day till the fermentation calms down (3-8 days).  If you cannot be this attentive, or wish not to, you can buy equipment that will relieve you of these duties.  I try to start most things as cheap as possible to make sure I enjoy it, and to save money.

Equipment and ingredients needed:

Large knife
Cutting board
Large bowl
Jars w/ air-tight lid (Large mouth are ideal -- I use 1/2 gallon)
Salt (Sea salt with no additives or canning salt)
Cabbage (about 2 medium heads per 1/2 gallon jar)

Caraway seeds
Juniper berries
Jalapeno or other peppers
Hundreds of other things can work -- play around if you like that sort of thing!

A note about optional airlock systems

In order to make it and leave it unattended you would also need an airlock system.  This will keep the oxygen out (mold needs oxygen) and the allow the excess carbon dioxide to escape (it can explode if you build up too much).  Here is a site with fermentation equipment. You could also make your own, or order things from home brewing equipment shops.  The instructions below will not be using an airlock.  I will mention a couple notes if you decide to use a crock or airlock system of sorts.

Directions for creating your own beneficial microbe loaded super-food!

Step 1: Get together all of your equipment and ingredients.  Peal off the exterior leaves, discard any bad ones and keep a couple nice ones for the top -- this is explained in more on step 8 below.

Step 2:  Chop thin slices from the cabbage heads.  I like a variety in sizes but extremely thin is very nice in my opinion.  You can cut the entire head in half, or just start carving away.

Step 3:  Place all your shreds into a strainer and run under water to clean them up.

Step 4: Keep doing this and collect all your sliced and clean cabbage in a large bowl.

Step 5:  Once your bowl is filled up pour salt over the top.  I add by taste, but a general rule of thumb would be about 1 to 1.5 tbs per medium head of cabbage.  I will pour about half of the salt I plan on using over the top and add the other half once I have massaged it some.  Some people will use a mallet to soften the cabbage up, but I prefer to just give it a hearty massage.  Squeeze it and toss it around for a couple minutes and then add the rest of your salt.  If you are going by taste you will want more salt than you would normally use for a dish  -- but not so much that you cant enjoy a few mouthfuls. 

After you have massaged it for about 10 minutes take a 15-30 minute break.  When you get back the salt will have pulled a lot of the water out of the cabbage cell walls and it will be much easier to finish up the job.  See the image below, all this water has seeped out of the cabbage during that wait.

Step 6:  Give it another 5-10 minute massage before loading it into the jars.  It will be very tender by now and limped up, but still fairly crisp if you taste it.

  • This is the time I add caraway seeds (about 2-3 tsp per head of cabbage)
    • All 4 of the jars I did for this tutorial have caraway -- it adds a very nice taste imo.
  • This is also the time to add extra veggies or other spices you want to try out
    • The pictures at the bottom has 2 jars with shredded carrots.  I think broccoli is surprisingly an awesome addition.

Step 7:  After this final massage fill your jars up.  As you fill the jars up load it to the top and firmly compact it.  You will want to do this till it's firmly packed to about 2.5 inches from the top.

Step 8:  Once you have packed the jar and left about 2-3 inches at the top cap it.  Take the leaf you set aside and fold it onto the top.  You could instead buy a weight to hold it down (like this), but I find this method works fine.  The reason for this is to keep your cabbage submerged.  This decreases chance of molds growing at the top and keeps the kraut in great condition.  Some pictures below will show how to fold the leaves in.


Step 9:  Pour the excess liquid from your bowl into the jar.  Leave about 1/2 inch gap at the top for the carbon dioxide to hang out.  If you don't have enough liquids left over you can make a brine.  Dissolve about 1 tsp of salt per cup of water.

Step 10:  You are done with the hard part!  Take your canning lid and cap it tight, then back off slightly so it can pop -- if there were too much gas buildup.  See guidelines below for tips and what to do while it ferments.

Fermentation period 3-8+ days and storage

  • Tighten the lids very tight, then back the lid off about 1/16th to 1/8th of a turn.  This will allow the top to pop open and release gas if you neglect it.  If you neglect the kraut too long it can start leaking brine all over.  If you leave it cranked down you can potentially shatter your jars from the carbonation buildup!
  • Every 8-12 hours crack open your jars to let the gasses leak out (this is called burping), you should hear it escape -- if you don't hear anything in the first day or two this is not a big deal.  In cooler temps (under 65 degrees) the fermentation can take longer to start being very active.  If you take too long to open it, you will have an eruption --  like a shaken bottle of soda.  Also if you are fermenting at warm temps (72+ degrees) this will happen in less time.  I would open your jars over a sink, the water can expand with all of that carbonation build-up.  If the liquid is filled to the top, spill off some so it has that 1/2 inch gap again.. 
  • Feel free to taste it along the way.  If you find that you love the taste before fermentation has slowed to a crawl, you can stop it.  If you love the taste and want to stop fermentation simply put it in the fridge.
  • I allow the fermentation to finish up.  This takes about 4-6 days for me in warmer temps, and 8-12 days if I do it in my basement (around 60 degrees).  If you have a very warm house (72+ degrees), I recommend fermenting in your basement to get a crisper kraut.  
  • When I stop getting the gas leak in an 8-12 hour period I give it 24 hours and give it one final burp.  If that final burp was robust, keep burping at 24 hour intervals till it's a very mild burp.  At this point I crank the lids down and store it in the basement for long term keeping.  Dark and cool is ideal conditions for storage.  I hear it is ideal eating at 6 months.  Mine have never lasted that long.  I have one jar set aside to try at the 6 month mark -- I cant wait!  I have also read that they are fine stored up to 1 year and beyond.  I have talked to people that are eating 2 year old sauerkraut and they say it's top notch.

If you used an airlock

  • This is much easier.  Follow the instructions of your airlock.  If your airlock is exposed to air (like a crock), don't let the water reservoir dry out, or you lost its benefits and are exposing it to contamination.
  • After the fermentation period (I would just be lazy and give it 3 weeks).  Store the finished sauerkraut in a permanent canning jar and crank down on the lid.  Store in a dark cool place and eat whenever you desire.  6 months may be ideal for flavor and will store at least 1 year just fine.
  • Once you open your jars for eating, leave the open jars (with the lid on) in your fridge.  I have never had a 1/2 gallon jar last more than 2 weeks in the fridge, and it stays great that long.  I would guess it has a much longer refrigeration shelf life than that (1-2 months would be my guess from readings).

Bonus coleslaw recipe!

I set aside all of my fine looking large cabbage scraps to make a simple coleslaw.  


3-4 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup carrots
2-4 tsp braggs liquid aminos (soysauce is a good alternative) -- This is very salty add to your taste!
2-4 tsp apple cider vinegar (I like braggs raw apple cider vinegar)
1 tbs mustard (horseradish mustard is a great one, but any works fine)
1 tbs honey (agave is a great alternative)
Spices to taste: chipotle, garlic, onion, pepper are all great!

*I honestly don't know how much of all the above ingredients I use, I'm just guessing.   I do things by taste and the mood I'm in can change everything.  Sorry if this is too mild or bold for anyone, adjust to your own taste buds please.

Step 1:  Put the pieces that are too large into a food processor and pulse (or chop them very fine). 
  • Bell peppers, carrots, celery, jalapenos, broccoli, cauliflower are all great additions

Step 2:  Add any other shredded veggies you desire.

Step 3: Add all your other ingredients and stir.

Step 4: Eat!

SUCCESS!  If anyone got through this long tutorial pat yourself on the back!  I hope you gained something from it.  I had a lot of fun, have a great week everyone.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our "About Us" page has been updated.  Check it out if you are interested, let us know if you like it.  A couple days ago our first 5 balms were made.  They are being used multiple times a day and we are figuring out what adjustments will take place.  They are surprisingly awesome for our first attempt!  Once we have one we feel is amazing we will start sharing with our local friends for some good feedback.  Hopefully we have something for you all before the end of the holiday season, but we cannot promise anything.  Lip balms, lotion bars, body butters, massage oils are all in the works.  They will be available once perfected and we settle on containers/packaging.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We have the ingredients to start playing around with lip balms, hand balms/salves!  They will be available to buy when they are ready.  We wont sell them till they have been tested by us and local friends/family.  We are 100% cruelty free, no animals are harmed  -- only our loved ones :P

Thanks for all the recent purchases, this is how we were able to buy the balm ingredients.  We roll 100% of the money back into the business so we can grow.  We have a lot of plans, and hope you all love the new products in the future.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sourdough Bread

I made some sourdough starter from scratch a few weeks ago.  This is my 2nd bread made with the starter and it turned out fantastic.  I make it with 100% whole wheat and the starter is 100% whole wheat as well.  I have made pancakes, pizza, and muffins with the starter  --  all of it has been great.  It's been a lot of fun and tastes great.  I may put up a tutorial on the starter and the bread recipe in the future.  I'm still tweaking with the  bread, it's getting close to where I want it.