Fermented food is regarded as extremely healthy, loaded with enzymes, vitamins and probiotics which are so beneficial for our gut and health. The gut bacteria influence not only our health but also our mood. There is an analogy between the bacteria in soil and the health of plants and the bacteria in the human body and our health. Bacteria and microorganisms living in soil and along roots of plants (on walls of our gut) predigest – making nutrients available to plants (human body). Plants absorb about 2/3 of nutrients through bacteria, so without good bacteria in soil (gut), plants (human body) struggle. While using artificial fertilisers and sprays we are killing bacteria in soil. The same applies to using antibiotics which wipe out all bad and good bacteria in our body which need to be replenished. In soil good bacteria would be replenished with compost, in the human body it would be with fermented food loaded with probiotics (sauerkraut, yoghurt, kombucha etc.)
But did you know that fermented food is very easy to prepare? And if properly stored it will last for several weeks/months. We make great tasting sauerkraut in less than 20 minutes. So how do we prepare it?
2 tablespoons of salt (sea salt or Himalayan)
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
Optional spices (dill, turmeric, ginger… whatever you like)
– Peel cabbage and onion of outer leaves/skin.
– Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix it for a few minutes (use your hands) till cabbage becomes juicy and leave it to rest for a while.
– Load the mix into a large jar (2 or 3 litres glass jars) while constantly pressing cabbage into the jar by hand or with a spoon.
– When it’s nearly full, about 3 cm from the top there should be enough juice to cover the cabbage pieces which is very important. If not, add brine (boiled water with salt at room temperature) to make sure cabbage is completely submerged.
– Clean the rim of the jar and screw a lid on – make sure it’s not tightly screwed as during the fermentation process CO2 gas has to be released from the jar (otherwise you are making a pressure vessel)
– Leave it to ferment at room temperature for at least three days but the longer you leave it to ferment the better tasting sauerkraut you get. The fermentation process is quite dramatic and sometimes it can overflow – so put the fermentation jar on a saucer to prevent a spill.
– Once ready and opened store it in a fridge otherwise it might go off.
We leave our sauerkraut to ferment in a cupboard for a few weeks. One time we left it for a couple of months in summer and it was still fine – self-preserved. If you open it to taste and decide to leave it for a few more days/weeks make sure to use a clean fork for sampling and most importantly everything needs to be submerged in brine when reclosing lid otherwise bacteria can get in and your efforts will be wasted.
In the same way you can prepare a mix of vegetables to ferment such as carrot, beetroot, cucumber, zucchinis, kale, whatever you have surplus of. If using pumpkin, butternut, leave the skin on as it contains beneficial fermentation bacteria. If you want to speed up a fermentation process add a bit of leftover sauerkraut from a previous batch so the process kickstarts faster. Fermentation is an ancient way of preserving garden produce while pre digesting food and enhancing nutritious and biological values ….. and …… we are what we eat.