What it's all about
Living on a modern day homestead, the Shikata Homestead, which simply means, "The Way", the Seeley family (author's family) has enjoyed learning and living the ways of old. As close to a 19th century homestead way of life as possible these days, they live with no electricity, no running water and have become very self sufficient. Part of modern homesteading, of course, is making as much of their own food as possible.
On of the best and easiest fermented foods you can make at home right now is sauerkraut, made from fresh organic cabbage. If you grew the cabbage yourself, it would be even better! In this article you will learn the health benefits of fermented foods and how to make your own sauerkraut at home and reap the health benefits of a diet that includes fermented/raw foods.
First the important stuff
Fermented foods have been around for, literally, hundreds of years! Pioneers, settlers, your grandmother, they all ate fermented foods and lived to be older than most of us do today and without all our aches and pains! This is easily proven with facts that are backed up by doing a little research or just by talking to your great grandmother about the "good ole times". Fermented foods today, are still prevalent and are still as much as important to our health as they always have been.
Some samples of fermented foods are pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, German potato salad, kefir, and even yogurt. We all should understand the health benefits involved by eating a cup or 2 of yogurt so it should come as no surprise that fermented foods have the repetition of alkalizing the body. Whats that mean you ask? A body which remains alkaline provides the worst possible environment for the growth of free radicals and cancer cells!
What you will need
Making sauerkraut at home is fast and easy and will yield some tremendously tasty results as well as a very healthy meal. Canning quarts of homemade sauerkraut will also ensure your family has healthy food, like this, throughout the winter when fresh produce is very limited, or at the least health produce is very limited.
- 1 small to medium head of cabbage (usually 1 small to medium head of cabbage fills 3 quart jars)
- 3 tsp of sea salt
- 3 quart jars
- Large plastic or glass bowl for mixing
- Jar cover/lid
How to make your kraut
You will rave about how easy this actually is!
- Step 1- Chop entire cabbage head as small as you can get it on a cutting board with a sharp knife.
- Step 1- In a large, non-reactive bowl, such as a glass, earthen or plastic bowl place in the cabbage.
- Step 3- Mix in 3 tsp of sea salt and begin to massage the cabbage. This will allow the salt to extract the water from the cabbage and start the fermenting process immediately. Keep massaging the cabbage until there is a good amount of water in the bowl. Ideally, it is a good idea to do this until water is covering the cabbage, mostly.
- Step 4- Allow the cabbage mix to sit covered with a cloth in the bowl for 10-15 minutes to continue allowing the salt to extract fluids from the cabbage. your fluid cover is the main part of this technique and the difference between sauerkraut and sauerkrout!
- Step 5- In a clean quart mason jar, pack your cabbage mixture. If you have extra you can pack it in a smaller jar as an overflow or just eat it cooked or raw, if you don't mind the salt. Make sure to pack the cabbage so that there is space at the top where the water can cover the cabbage and not be interfered with by the jar's covering.
- Step 6- Cover the jar, just to keep out bugs and dust. So do not tighten down any covering, the mixture has to breath as it ferments. Some people choose to just drape a cloth over the jar.
- Step 7- Place the jar in a warm location of at least 70 degrees. In our family's off grid cabin we place our jars to ferment in out inside loft, which is always hot and perfect for fermenting and drying foods.
Prep time: 20 min, Ready in: Ferment for 3-5 days, Yields: 1 quart
Now comes the wait
Once you sit your jar of kraut in a warm location to ferment, check your jar daily to make sure that the cabbage in the jar remains covered by the water. Any cabbage that does not stay covered may go bad and have to be removed. You may also add water to the mix as needed with no fears of ruining the kraut.
Allow your kraut to sit and ferment for 3-5 days. Three days minimum then taste it. If it is not to your liking, allow it to sit for another day or two. After about 5 days, most people enjoy the taste of their kraut. There is nothing wrong with letting your kraut sit for longer, it will only improve it's taste!
After the kraut tastes as you like it, place a lid on the jar and place the jar in your cooler or refrigerator to become cold and enjoyable. You can eat the sauerkraut right away! If you plan on canning your kraut now is the time to do so. Follow any instructions you have for canning sauerkraut.