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
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)
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.
- 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.
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!
- Bell peppers, carrots, celery, jalapenos, broccoli, cauliflower are all great additions