Healthy Belly Bugs & why you should eat some sauerkraut

HEY... want to hear something strange? There are trillions of bugs in your belly.  

Healthy adults are thought to carry 2-5 POUNDS of these bugs - more specifically microorganisms, known as healthy bacteria or PROBIOTICS - at any one time.  

A healthy digestive and immune system starts with these microorganisms in your belly; they are the foundation for your ability to properly digest food, utilize nutrients, and fight off potential bad bacteria.

We are born with an entire population of healthy bacteria from our mothers, but we also need to continue to replenish their numbers over time. And one of the best places to find an abundance of probiotics is in fermented foods!

For thousands of years cultures across the globe incorporated fermented foods into their everyday diets, knowing these super-charged foods could guard against disease and illness. (Our ancestors were no dummies.) Naturally fermented foods are at the top of the list of foods I recommend EVERYONE incorporate into their diet on a regular basis.

healthy homemade fermented vegetables

It's becoming easier to find real, fermented products like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi in stores. (And you can even get probiotics in supplement form, if you must.) But it's oh-so-satisfying to create a batch at home. It's super cheap and relatively simple; it just requires some patience and confidence!

Here's a quick tutorial to help you get started on your own home-made sauerkraut!

You'll need:  

1 large head of cabbage

1 Tablespoon of sea or natural salt (not iodized table salt)

1 -2 Tablespoons of whey, OR juice from another batch of fermented kraut or pickles (optional - but helpful in guaranteeing you a good batch!)

a large (half gallon or more) mason jar

a large freezer zip-lock bag

 

Make your own fermented foods at home!

Instructions:

1. Gather your kitchen utensils, freshly washed in hot water; cutting board, large knife, large wide-mouth mason jar with lid, large mixing bowl, 1 gallon zip-lock bag.

2. Remove the outer leaves and core of your cabbage and chop finely into smaller ribbons, or use the shred blade of your food processor. Place into mixing bowl.

3. Sprinkle the salt and whey (or kraut-liquid) over the cabbage, and with very clean hands, massage and mix the cabbage, squeezing and crushing it as you go.... about 2 minutes.  

Healthy fermented sauerkraut via January Welness

 - At this point, feel free to experiment with adding in other ingredients to season your kraut - caraway seeds, garlic, chili pepper, fresh dill, a little curry powder...  the variations are endless!

4. Set aside for about 15-30 minutes, covered with a clean kitchen towel. Check the bowl after 15-30 minutes to see that some liquid is forming at the bottom of the bowl; this is the "brine" that the kraut will be fermenting in .

5. By the handful or using tongs, place all the cabbage into the mason jar, packing it down tightly as you go. Pour in any liquid left in the bowl. You want the cabbage to be covered with at least a little layer of liquid; if that doesn't happen, keep pressing the cabbage down or add a little filtered water to top until covered.

Fermented Kraut Recipe - for digestive wellness

6. Place the plastic bag halfway into the jar, open end out.  Fill the inside of the bag with enough water to be about 1 inch from the top, so that the water in the bag holds the cabbage down. Fold the edges of the bag down and put the lid on the jar.

Every 24 hours you can reach into the bag and press down the cabbage to release air bubbles from the fermentation process. Your kraut can be eaten in as little as 3 days or fermented up to 3 weeks.  Try it out as time passes, to see what level of fermentation you like!  Use your nose to guide you - it will be stinky (in a good way)!

Happy Fermenting!

xo January