Sauerkraut will populate your intestinal tract with wonderful probiotics. The beauty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut is that they are incredibly effective at increasing your overall nutrition, promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, and aiding digestion and supporting immune function, including an increase in B vitamins (even Vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria (and even cancer cells).
Buying commercially produced fermented foods is not quite the same as buying home made versions. Some pickles are simply packed in salt, vinegar, and pasteurized. Many yogurts are so laden with sugar that they are little more than puddings. Refrigeration, high-heat pasteurization, and the addition of vinegar with its acidic pH all slow or halt the fermentation and enzymatic processes. These modern processing techniques effectively kill off all the lactic acid producing bacteria and short-circuit their important and traditional contribution to intestinal and overall health.
Sauerkraut is very simple to make. All you need is a head of cabbage and some sea salt. You can add a couple of carrots in with it to provide colour and texture. This fermented dish will really last indefinitely, so don’t be afraid of it going bad. This was how our ancestors got through the winters when there were no refrigerators and freezers around.
- 1 head cabbage, green or purple or a mixture of both
- 2 tablespoons Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt (do not use conventional rock salt as it is lacking in trace minerals)
- 2 x 250 mL or 1 500 mL sized glass large-mouth mason jars
- Food processor or knife
- Remove and discard outer leaves of the cabbage, until you get to the clean unblemished leaves underneath. Cut cabbage in half and core. Shred cabbage in food processor using a ‘slicing’ disk or with a knife, creating thin strips of cabbage.
- Place cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Use it liberally, because this is what makes the juices come out of the cabbage. It also acts to keep putrefactive bacteria at bay so that your kraut doesn’t spoil and become mouldy. I use about two tablespoons of salt for a large head of cabbage. Sprinkle the salt all through the cabbage and mix it up to distribute it evenly. Let the cabbage sit in bowl for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes massage/knead the cabbage to release its juices.
- Whichever container you use, push the mixture down and pack it in. Then use either your fist and fingers, or a mallet to pack it as tightly as you can. Mash it so that the juice runs and covers all of the vegetables. If it doesn’t quite cover it, add more water. This example of the GAPS diet recipes is fermented by an anaerobic (no oxygen) process, so you must be sure that no oxygen can get in around the cabbage, or it will mould and spoil.
- You can use the outer leaves of the cabbage to cover the mixture completely. Just be sure to leave some room at the top of the container so that gasses can escape. Or you can cover it with something small like a dish or bowl to keep the cabbage under the liquid. Simply leave some room around it (an inch or so) to again let gas come out.
- Keep this on your kitchen counter for three to seven days. Taste it after three days to see if you need to go beyond that up to seven days. If it is ready then store in the refrigerator. The cold will not stop the fermentation process, but it will slow it down.
- When you want to make another batch of this type of the GAPS diet recipes, either start the process over again with a new container, or reuse the first one without washing it out, in order to utilize the good bacteria that is already there. It’s kind of like sourdough bread starter, if you are familiar with that.
– Add juniper berries, caraway seeds or a handful of dill and grated onion, beetroot or carrot to your sauerkraut for additional flavour.
– When introducing sauerkraut on the GAPS Intro Diet remember to start with just a teaspoon of the juice, have this for three days and then increase to two teaspoons for another three to five days, increasing the dose when you do not have any reactions. Gradually work up to eating the kraut itself. If your gut is severely distressed, eating too much of these good probiotics too soon can cause a die-off of the bad bacteria and make you feel ill, so proceed cautiously.