When I used to hear the word sauerkraut I would think cabbage, sugar and vinegar in a jar. In our modern fast food times, traditional whole foods and preparation techniques have been exchanged for fast, convenient look a likes. Even the real lacto-fermented vegetables I am finding in health food stores have been pasteurised, destroying the beneficial probiotic bacteria and enzymes within them.
Lacto-fermentation is the process of preserving vegetables using simple, traditional techniques, which proliferate probiotic lactobacilli bacteria. You have probably heard of probiotic supplements you can buy containing isolated freeze dried lactobacilli bacteria. This lacto-fermenting process also produces beneficial enzymes and increases vitamin levels of the vegetables being preserved.
Lactobacilli bacteria is present on all living things, but especially in large quantities on leaves and roots in contact with the earth. During the lacto-fermenting process the probiotic bacteria feed and multiply on the sugars and starches of the vegetable you are preserving and produce lactic acid. Lactic acid preserves the vegetable and inhibits putrefying bacteria. Lactic acid also produces hydrogen peroxide and benzoic acid.
Almost any country you look at there is a history of fermentation and still today, especially in countries still following their traditional diets there are lacto-fermented foods present such as sauerkraut, kimchi, relishes, beet kavas, natto and other preserves.
This lacto-fermentation process not only preserved food when there were no fridges available, but it promoted health and longevity in those who consumed it. The balance of good and bad bacteria, yeast, fungi and protozoa in ones gut is crucial to good health. Our gut flora aids digestion, absorbs nutrients, prevents the assimilation of toxins and the growth of harmful bacteria, they even produce vitamins, hormones, deodorise the colon and promote the formation of stools and regular bowel movements.
Lacto-fermented vegetables boast some very amazing health benefits including
- Promoting the growth of health bacteria in the small intestine feeding the good bacteria in the gut
- Boasts anti-cancer and antibiotic properties
- Aids and improves digestion
- Enhances immune function, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
- The active cultures have stimulating effects on cellular immunity
- Help control inflammation
- Help increase NK cells, immunity
- Increase antibodies when suffering infection.
- Place finely sliced or shredded cabbage in a large bowl and add salt
- Using clean hands toss the salt through the cabbge
- Using the end of the rolling pin or a pounder pound the cabbage for around 10 minutes or longer if you wish, until it is softening and the juices are coming out.
- Pack the cabbage into the jars making sure it is packed tightly using the pounder to compress the cabbage. When packed tightly the cabbage juice should rise above the cabbage at the top. make sure you leave around an inch from the top of the jar as the cabbage will expand. It is important to have the cabbage covered by the brine as this protects the cabbage from going off.
- Using left over cabbage leaves roll them up and place them on top of the cabbage to hold it down under the brine, then place the lid on.
- Leave in a warm or the warmest place (but not in direct sunlight) in the home for 3 days or up to a week to ferment. The time really depends on the temperature. I have been leaving mine for a week as it has been winter and the fermentation process is slower.
- Place the ferment in the fridge and this can be eaten immediately or until it has aged which some prefer.
and even just through the old google you will find some inspiration and recipes.