First, I want to tell you a story.
A few weeks ago a friend and I were conversing on health, specifically her gut health. She went on to say that she was eating sauerkraut the day before and it was sooo good. Plus she was happy that she was doing something good for her health.
Doesn’t it always feel good when you do something good for your health and actually follow through – yasss!
But she had the most terrible, potent, awful gas that her husband had to leave the bedroom!! 🤢
I’m not mentioning any names because geez we are talking about farting and I wouldn’t want to embarrass her! But I’m sure for a quick second you are trying to imagine who it was, aren’t you 🤣? You don’t know her and she’s not even my friend on FB or IG 🤷🏼♀️! But, hey it’s something everyone has from time to time but yet we cringe, hide or look the other way like they did it, I don’t know 😆
Back to the sauerkraut. She was thinking she was doing good. So I asked her what brand she ate. She told me Boar’s Head because that was a good brand.
Well any sauerkraut that has been cooked or heated has no beneficial bacteria in it. Despite it promotes “delicate slices of cabbage that are fermented and aged for a crisp texture and slightly tart flavor”. Notice it doesn’t say anything about it having beneficial bacteria so their fermentation process does not add the beneficial probiotics we need from it. It also has sodium benzoate to preserve it. Needless to say there is no beneficial bacteria in these types of sauerkraut.
You can certainly buy a brand like Bubba’s in Whole Foods or your local health food market that has a refrigerated section. However, making your own is really simple. It literally requires two ingredients – cabbage & salt!!!
While there are many different reasons people have gas, eating a large amounts of sauerkraut might be too much for ones digestive system to handle. It could have been from the sugars that some vegetables (especially cruciferous) has that is hard to digest due to the natural types of sugars in it.
In her case, she might have an overgrowth of yeast which will continually feed off of the sugar. Also it’s a good idea to eat small portions of probiotic foods if your gut is not used to it. Work your way up so your body has the ability to digest it without having digestive upset. And, she did tell me she ate a LOT of it hence the copious amounts of gas that her body was unable to process!!
In any case, having flatulence is natural but have excessive amounts of smelly gas likely means your intestinal bacteria is out of whack.
So that brings me to homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut. It’s easy and eating a little everyday or a few times a week is good to build up your good bacteria naturally.
The salt is added at the beginning of fermentation to suppress the growth of the undesirable bacteria. As the fermentation takes place, lactic acid is produced and the pH drops and bacteria metabolism slows. Through the process, the bacteria is trapped in the brine where they eat the sugars in the cabbage. They multiple like crazy and release large amounts of lactic acid that acts as a preservative and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. This natural process and without heat also holds onto more vitamins and minerals.
Another awesome way to eat this sauerkraut is topped cold on a delicious bowl of hot pureed squash soup or one of my favorites is a pureed purple turnip soup. Pureed soups are actually easier to digest since it is already broken down and the sauerkraut topper makes it even more delicious and beneficial for your gut!
Despite how long the directions look, it’s really super simple, shred, salt, massage, sit ~ that’s it.
Simple Homemade Sauerkraut
This simple homemade sauerkraut is filled with probiotics to help balance your gut flora.
- 1 head organic green cabbage
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Himalayan pink salt finely grated or fine sea salt
- sprinkle dill, caraway, anise, or fennel seed (optional)
- 1 ea wide mouth glass mason jar & lid
- 1 ea mandolin, sharp chef knife I prefer mandoline if you have but a knife works perfectly
- 1 ea cutting board
- 1 ea cheese cloth or a clean thin dish towel & rubber band
- 1 large wide or rectangular glass dish
Clean your jar well. You can pour hot boiling water if you wish to sanitize it so it will remove any lingering harmful bacteria to prevent mold but it's not necessary. Good hot soapy water is fine and rinsed well.
Do not wash the cabbage. You will need the natural bacteria that is on the leaves to start the fermentation process.
Cut and quarter the cabbage. Remove some of the larger leaves and put to the side, you will need this to cover the sauerkraut in the jar.
Take out the core but slicing it in a "V" at the core with the knife and remove it.
Shred the cabbage using a mandolin at your desired thickness into the large rectangular bowl. Or, thinly slice it with a knife on it's side. You can also use a box grater but that is a bit too shredded in my opinion for sauerkraut so if you don't have a mandolin just use a knife.
Sprinkle the fine pink or sea salt over the cabbage.
Use your hands to massage the salt in. Gently squeeze and turn the cabbage while you massage it. You will start to see it get a bit softer as you break down cellulose fibers from cabbage. Liquid will start to develop, do not discard, this is the brine.
Let the cabbage sit for about 30 minutes before putting it in the jar.
Massage it again before putting it in the jar. One head of cabbage should fit in the jar once broken down a bit. Squeeze it all in there, you can push it in with your hands or wooden spoon (I use gloves when I cook normally).
Top the jar with the large loose cabbage leaves you saved. Tuck it in so there is no air (you need an anaerobic state). Once it sits for a few hours it will develop even more brine and be completely submerged in the brine.
Cover with fine cheesecloth or other thin cloth. Put a rubber band around it and let it sit on the counter for 7-10 days (out of direct sun light or heat). Depending on how the air is in your home will depend how long you will have it out. I have central air so 10 days is perfect for me. The slow fermentation tastes the best. The longer it sits the more tangy it will get so test it and see what you prefer in taste. Also the longer it sits the more beneficial microbes (specifically lactobacillus) there will be.
Once it's fermented to your liking, remove the cheese cloth and cover it with the lid. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. This can be stored for months in the refrigerator.