Gut and Brain Health

There is a lot of great research about how what we eat keeps our bodies and brains healthy. Particularly fermented foods that provide probiotic bacteria to improve gut flora. This article from John Hopkins explains the gut brain connection.

I usually have a batch of homemade kombucha and sauerkraut going at all times. Both are super easy-peasy to make. There is little hands-on time required. Just patience to let your concoctions do their thing, i.e. ferment.

Here's my basic recipe for sauerkraut.

1 head of cabbage 
1.5 tablespoons of pickling salt

Yep, that's it. Salt and cabbage.

There are discussions galore about which salts to use. Don't use salt with iodine in it. Beyond that, you can experiment and decide which you prefer--sea salt, kosher, etc. 

I always use green cabbage for my kraut. I'll explain more in a bit. Let's get back to how to make the kraut.

  • A large bowl (Wooden, ceramic, glass, stainless steel. No plastic.)
  • Two hands OR you can use a kraut masher. I use my hands. Goes a lot faster.
  • a container to store your kraut as it ferments. I use a large mason jar, or my favorite, a large Adams Peanut Butter jar. You'll want a lid for either of those too. If you have a fancy crock you can use that too. Again no plastic. I'd avoid metals at this stage as well.
  • a small jar or bowl

  • wash your hands and wrists really well and make sure your finger nails are uber clean too.
  • peel off the first few leaves of the cabbage head and discard
  • save a couple of leaves that are freshly exposed for later in the process
  • core and chop up your cabbage. This is personal preference. I cut mine like I'm making slaw. If you go really big, it will take more effort in the massaging/mashing stage. I wouldn't shred to finely either. It'll get mushy in the fermentation process.
  • put your chopped cabbage in your bowl
  • sprinkle the salt over the cabbage
  • start mashing or massaging your cabbage
  • keep mashing/massaging until the cabbage starts producing liquid. You want a fair amount. Enough to cover your cabbage when you put it all in your jar/container of choice. 
  • transfer your massaged cabbage and liquid (brine) to a jar
  • really pack tightly it into the jar so there are no air bubbles. I use my fist to pack it down.
  • as you pack it down, the brine should come to the top and you want all the cabbage submerged under the brine.
  • take the clean cabbage leaves you saved and tuck them over the top of the cabbage, like you're putting a shower cap on the cabbage. The brine again, should be over the top of the leaves
  • put the small jar or  bowl on top of the leaves to keep everything below the brine line
  • cover the top of the big jar with a loosely placed lid. Don't tighten too much. You want air bubbles to be able to get out of the jar as it ferments.
  • It may bubble up liquid as well, so put the jar on a plate/saucer to catch any spill overs.
  • I drape my jar with a cloth and keep it in my basement in the summer, or kitchen in the winter. 
  • Check back around 10-14 days. Smell it. Taste it. Do you like it? You're done.
  • Ta da! you've made a jar of sauerkraut! Good job!
  • Some people like to ferment their kraut a bit longer. It does not make it "healthier" if you go longer than 2-3 weeks. 

Is that the prettiest kraut ever?! This was mostly green cabbage, with a bit of red/purple/whatever you call the opposite of green cabbage added in. In my experience purple cabbage doesn't brine up as easily as green cabbage does. 

    You can get a lot more fancy-pants if you want. I've added garlic, jalapenos, caraway seeds, turmeric (that was really pretty too!). Here are books at my local library for more ideas. From there, check your library or local book store. Google fermented foods, and you'll find all kinds of recipes and blogs. 

    Lastly, and since I'm a Somatic Educator, I'm gonna say, "Use your senses, including common sense!" If your kraut looks, smells off, ditch it. There are some safe things that can grow on the surface of perfectly safe kraut, so again, do your research to learn about what to watch for and how to remedy your situation.


    PS if you require images to follow a recipe, feel free to comment and ask for that. Maybe I'll get around to that. In the mean time, again, google for how to make sauerkraut and you'll find much fancier bloggers who are more Martha Stewart than I'll ever be. :-) 


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