For every cell of your body, there are 10 bacteria cells! And did you realize that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? This is a function of the good bacteria that live there. Which means that maintaining a healthy population of good bacteria, or probiotics, is essential for good health.
Probiotics are a huge, multibillion dollar industry, and one of the fastest growing segments of the natural health industry. This is due to an increasing awareness of the importance of probiotics on every aspect of health. Supplementing with probiotics in pill form can be confusing and costly. Luckily, there is a much better, cheaper and more natural way to insure your gut has an abundance of good guys living in there. And I’m going to show you how to easily make probiotics at home.
Fermented foods have historically been used by all cultures around the world by necessity. It was a way of preserving foods for use throughout the year. Modern society has all but eliminated the need for this ancient food preservation technique, so modern diets are often missing this very important health food. A typical probiotic capsule contains anywhere from 5-50 billion bacteria, where as a single half cup serving of homemade sauerkraut contains 10 trillion bacteria! Eating fermented foods on a daily basis is a great way to ensure that you are getting adequate good bacteria into your system.
Fermented Food Recipe – Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented foods to make and is a good starting point for those wanting to incorporate the vast benefits of homemade probiotics. Here is one of a variety of different ways to make it.
To begin, you will need:
- Cabbage (firm, dense, heavy heads are best)
- Salt (use only unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt)
- Fermenting vessels (I prefer Fido jars)
- Any other veggies you want to add (optional)
- Spices such as caraway seeds or juniper berries (optional)
First, shred your cabbage and any other veggies with a knife, mandolin slicer or food processor. I like mine shredded pretty fine.
Next, add spices and sprinkle salt on the cabbage at a rate of 10 grams of salt to one pound of cabbage, or approximately 3 tablespoons of salt per 5 pounds of cabbage. NOTE: If you are using Fido jars or jars with airlocks, you can get away with half this much salt. With clean hands, massage the salt into the shredded cabbage and let rest for 30 minutes or more. Then massage some more to try to bring out as much liquid from the cabbage as possible.
The next step is to fill your clean jars with the cabbage and press down firmly in the jars to get rid of any air pockets. Leave at least 2″ of headspace. At this point there may be enough liquid covering the cabbage, but if not, you need to add a brine solution of 24 grams salt per quart of water (or roughly 1+ tablespoons salt per quart) until the cabbage is completely covered in liquid.
Take whole cabbage leaves and roll them up like logs and put them on top of the liquid to help keep the shredded cabbage under the liquid.
Close the jar and keep it at room temperature (65-70 degrees is best) and in the dark for about 30 days, then place in the refrigerator for storage. You may want to keep a plate or container under the jars in case some liquid overflows.
And that’s it! You just created one of the healthiest foods imaginable. Fermentation increases the vitamin levels in vegetables by many times, and cultures an abundance of probiotics that are great for your inner ecosystem. The naturally occurring lactobacilli present on the cabbage will ferment it into a delicious and healthy sauerkraut.
Optional: Add a Starter Packet of Bacteria
If you wanted to give it a kick start, you could add a starter packet of bacteria (such as Caldwell’s), a couple capsules of probiotics you may have, 1/4 cup of whey or some liquid from a previous batch of sauerkraut, but this is absolutely not necessary. It will work fine without a starter.
Please note that most fermented foods sold in the grocery store have been pasteurized and therefore do not have the beneficial probiotics that you want. Once you’ve made a successful batch of sauerkraut, you may want to begin exploring other fermented foods, such as: kimchi, pickles, salsas, chutneys, condiments, kefir (both milk and water), kvass, kombucha, and so much more!
I hope this helps you understand the importance of fermented foods. Share this article with your friends in order to help improve their health with fermented foods. What’s your favorite fermented food? I would love to hear about some of your fermented food recipes and how they have helped improve your health.