My mom bought me a 15 liter fermenting crock for my birthday six years ago. I was just learning how to plan and prepare food for a real food household. I had made a couple batches of kimchi and fermented mixed vegetables in ball jars. My kitchen was much smaller then and I had no space to store the jars. So, they were stacked up all over the counter tops. It drove my husband nuts. The crock allowed me to make a big batch without having the jars sitting on the counter waiting for it to finish fermenting.
The health benefits of raw sauerkraut are vast. You can google it and find out many of its amazing properties. Most store bought sauerkraut is pasteurized. The heat of pasteurization kills off the health promoting beneficial probiotic bacteria. Refrigerated varieties, like Bubbies brand, are not pasteurized. But, they are super expensive by my standards.
Fermented foods, like fermented carrots and sauerkraut offer the following health benefits:
1. Probiotics: raw, fermented vegetables offer a bevy of probiotics which improves the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Dr. Mercola sent his sauerkraut off to a lab and reported the findings of probiotics saying, “We had it analyzed. We found in a 4-6 ounce serving of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria.” That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut had more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means one 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics.
2. Improved digestion: Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. The more nutrients you absorb from whole food, the less important supplementation is. Efficient absorption is also so important for children as their demand for a continuous supply of high quality nutrition is key.
3. Nutrient density: Raw fermented foods like fermented carrots and sauerkraut are an excellent source of Vitamin C, A and K2.
MAKING FERMENTED VEGETABLES at home is a huge cost savings and very easy to do!
I got this case of purple cabbage from the NC State farmers market for $20. The farmer I use is not certified organic because of the cost. He does not spray any of his vegetables and that is good enough for me!
I bought three large bags of fennel seeds from the bulk spices at Whole Foods for $1.60. Take advantage of the bulk spices! It’s a huge cost savings…you don’t have to pay for the jars.
I ran out of my real salt, so I swapped in this salt from Costco. It is finer than real salt and resulted in a bit of a different flavor than when I used the real salt. The most important thing is you get high-quality salt.
Next, I recruited a willing assistant.
Begin by peeling the outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the whole head of cabbage in half and slice thin. Put the sliced cabbage into a sturdy bowl and pound it with a mallet. (I use a meat tenderizer mallet) Add a couple of tablespoons of salt to each bowl of cabbage. Pound it well, until it is soft. Then dump it into the crock. Here add a layer of caraway seeds. How much you add depends on your taste buds. Keep repeating this process until you completely fill the crock. Pour enough filtered water until the cabbage is covered. Then add your fermenting weights (they come with the crock) to keep the cabbage submerged. Put on the lid and tuck it away for 4-6 weeks.
The warmer your house the shorter your fermenting time. Check the crock every couple of days to make sure you still have enough water and there is no mold growing.
MOLD, you may have some. That’s ok. Just gently remove the film from the top of the water and wipe the rim clean. The kraut below the weight will be just fine. 🙂
Here is the top of the crock after I removed the mold film.
Scoop out the kraut with a sturdy spoon and place it in a large bowl. Then, transfer the kraut to clean jars, saving the juice. Press it down into the jar firmly, packing it tightly. Fill the jar with the kraut juice from the bowl until the cabbage is submerged. Repeat this process for all jars. If you run out of juice, simply add clean filtered water.
Recruit the same helper to lightly screw the lids on the jars. Not too tight yet.
Let the jars rest on the counter for a couple of days burping them to release any gasses once a day. Then, either transfers them to your pantry or fridge. I have stored mine for over a year in the pantry without any problem. Red cabbage seems to hold up better than white for some reason. It does not get as soft.
Add this superfood to your kids’ plates alongside their other high-quality food.