With the warm, sunny weather approaching us, it’s the perfect time to achieve our health goals. Treat yourself to a fantastic fun-filled and health-filled summer. Whether you want to maintain good health or achieve a new health goal (including weight loss, decreasing your pain levels, or improving your energy), one simple piece of kitchen advice can be part of your at-home treatment plan.
The abundance of local produce sprouting into gardens and arriving at local farmer’s markets makes it the perfect time not only to include more healthy produce in our diets, but also utilize a new (but also ancient) kitchen technique to optimize your health: fermentation.
Eating fermented food (with naturally occurring probiotics) is something our ancestors have done for thousands of generations to support health. Research shows that naturally occurring probiotics from fermented food have wide-ranging benefits, including supporting weight loss, decreasing inflammation, relief from anxiety and depression, and more.
And one of the best parts is that this powerful medicine is cheap, easy to make right in your kitchen, and delicious. Most fresh vegetables can be fermented, but homemade sauerkraut is an easy place to start. Enjoy!
Simply the Best Sauerkraut (with Tasty Modifications)
- 1 large head of green cabbage (sliced thin, using a knife, food processor, or mandolin)
- 1 tablespoon non-iodized sea salt
- Two 32 oz mason jars or other glass storage containers
- Traditional blend: 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Veggie blend: 2 large carrots (grated), 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- Spicy blend: 1-2 jalapenos (seeds removed, diced), 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- Horseradish blend: ½ cup fresh horseradish root, 1 leek (sliced)
- Apple-fennel blend: 1 green apple (diced), 1 fennel bulb (diced)
- Add sliced cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Massage the cabbage with your hands until the cabbage softens and releases enough juices to entirely cover the cabbage.
- If you like, add in the ingredients from one of the above listed modifications and mix together. They are all delicious.
- Fill your containers up with the sauerkraut blend and the juice. Push the sauerkraut down into the containers so that all of the vegetable material is covered in liquid (ideally with 2 inches of space above the vegetables).
- Loosely seal the jar and place on a plate or other edged surface. Allow the sauerkraut to sit at room temperature.
- The sauerkraut will likely take at least 2 weeks, sometimes longer to achieve an ideal taste. After 2 weeks of sitting at room temperature, check on the sauerkraut by removing any added weights, and removing the top layer of sauerkraut from the jar if it appears discolored or moldy (don’t worry, the sauerkraut below this layer is delicious and healthy). If it doesn’t taste to your liking, you may continue to leave it at room temperature for another 1-2 weeks, tasting it every few days until you achieve an ideal sauerkraut.
- After the fermentation is finished, and the sauerkraut tastes to your liking, seal the lid tight, and refrigerate.
- Enjoy daily for optimal health!
Dr. Jason Wells is a Naturopathic Physician and Licensed Acupuncturist at Heart Spring Health. He enjoys helping patients overcome digestive and (often undiagnosed) autoimmune disorders, which contribute to the chronic pain and fatigue that too many people suffer from, so that they can regain healthy and happy living.