Probiotic Sauerkraut Salad
Why fermented foods?
Raw fermented sauerkraut is one of the healthiest and most nutrient dense foods you can eat. This simple probiotic sauerkraut salad is easy to prepare and packed with beneficial enzymes and probiotics. While enzymes help aid absorption and assimilation of nutrients from the food we eat, probiotics – also known as good gut bacteria – support your gut (or microbiome) by supplying it with beneficial bacteria that will in turn benefit your overall health. Since about 85% of our immune system is located in our gut, fermented foods can help boost our immune system, improve the appearance of our skin (the condition of our skin often go hand in hand with the health of our gut!), reduce inflammation and help improve weight loss and mood.
During a wild ferment, vegetables are left in an oxygen-free environment where they start to digest themselves by eating the naturally occurring sugars and converting them to beneficial lactobacilli bacteria. As this cycle repeats, the healthy enzyme and probiotic content proliferates, leaving you with a slightly tangy kraut full of health boosting properties that will help rebalance and detoxify your intestines.
Fermented vegetables vs. probiotic capsules
In my practice as a nutritionist, I love using real food rather than supplements whenever possible. Not only is this much more affordable – but often also often as if not more effective. When comparing sauerkraut to probiotic capsules, it obviously depends on the quality of your probiotic capsule, which varies between different brands. Another advantage of sauerkraut is the diversity of probiotic strains you get. Interestingly, when alternative medicine physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, had a sample of his homemade sauerkraut tested in a lab for probiotics, the results showed that just two ounces (60 gm) of the homemade sauerkraut had more probiotics than an entire bottle of probiotic capsules. What is important to note here is that the sauerkraut was homemade. The stuff you buy in stores often is pasteurised and treated with preservatives, which kill off the very organisms that make sauerkraut beneficial and good for us.
Another thing to note is that if you’ve never eaten fermented foods before, too large a portion can provoke a healing crisis, which happens when the probiotics kill off pathogens in your gut too quickly. When the pathogens die, they release potent toxins. If you’ve never had fermented foods in your life, you need to start gradually, beginning with as little as one tablespoon and working your way up from there. Just ease into it and listen to your body. Good luck!
- 1kg (about 1 head) cabbage (any type… white/purple/Chinese)
- 20-25 gm (roughly a tablespoon) fine Himalayan sea salt
- Knob ginger
- 3 grated carrots (optional)
- Finely chop or shred cabbage, carrots + ginger, then add to a large bowl. Make sure to put aside 2-3 large cabbage leaves which you’ll need later.
- Add salt and mix quickly – then leave for 15-30 mins. The salt will draw water out of the vegetables creating your sauerkraut brine which will help fermentation
- Massage the cabbage as this will help draw out more water. Once you feel the liquid start packing the cabbage salad tightly into a sterilised glass jar (as pictured). Push down with your fist or a kitchen utensil to make sure the cabbage is stuffed as tightly as possible. Continue till your jar is full and make sure to leave a couple of inches at the top as it will expand when it ferments. The brine should cover all the cabbage and if it doesn’t add a few tablespoons of water. When all the cabbage is in the jar, roll up the large cabbage leaves you saved in the beginning and suff them on top of everything to help keep the cabbage down below the water.
- Close the lid firmly and store in a dark cupboard at room temperature for 5 days. You can open daily to “burp” the salad and let out excess gasses.
- By day 5 it should smell and taste slightly tangy with a good kick from the ginger. Your salad is now ready and can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.