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Sauerkraut may cure or prevent flu and is easy to make at home

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A winter surge in flu-related deaths may be caused in part by cold, dry weather, according to Accuweather.com. While certainly not a substitute for flu shots and frequent hand washing, certain foods might help fight off the winter flu scourge.

Over the past several years, a few studies have shown that sauerkraut or similar fermented foods may help prevent or cure some influenza strains, commonly known as flu, and could improve the immune system in general. However, sauerkraut has along history of medical uses, going back to the time of Captain James Cook, the famous 18th century explorer, who served sauerkraut to his crew to prevent scurvy.

The disease, caused by a lack of vitamin C, sickened and killed many sailors in Captain Cook's day because ships didn't have any way of storing the fresh vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C. Sauerkraut was the perfect solution, since it could be stored indefinitely without going bad.

Sauerkraut is both inexpensive and tasty. It's also relatively easy to prepare if you enjoy making your own food.

You'll need a few canning jars and lids along with a head of cabbage, filtered water and salt.

First, wash and dry your canning jars and lids.

Wash and shred your cabbage, then pound it with a meat tenderizer until it shines.

Pack your cabbage into the mason jars, adding a handful of cabbage followed by a little salt until each jar is full. You'll want approximately 2 tsp of salt (table salt or sea salt) per one quarter mason jar.

After packing the cabbage into the jars as tightly as you can, add enough filtered water to cover the top of the cabbage, then screw on the jaw lids.

Put the jars in a shallow pan to catch any water overflow that happens during fermentation, then set the pan with the jars in a room temperature place for about a week.

After a few days, start sampling a bit of your sauerkraut daily to check its progress. Once it's ready, put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation and keep it there until you've finished eating it.

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