Fermentation is a traditional method of preserving food which has been used around the world for centuries. Unfortunately, with advances in technology, these preservation techniques have been long lost in our society. But with newly emerging science in the area of gut bacteria, there is renewed interest in learning this ancient art form for those looking to improve their health.
So what are fermented foods?
Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lacto-fermentation where natural bacteria feeds on its sugars and starches and produces lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates various strains of good bacteria. Consuming foods rich in good bacteria can help balance intestinal flora, which in turn can improve overall immunity. More recent studies have shown that the healthier the environment in your gut, the greater the production of serotonin for your brain.
A healthy gut equals a happy mind!
- Mandolin, knife, and cutting board
- Large mixing bowl and meat tenderizer
- Cabbage, carrots, dried raisins
- Salt (read important notes below for ratio)
- Mason jar (Avoid containers made from metal or plastic!)
- Wash and shred cabbage and carrots. Place into large bowl.
- Press to release juice with hands or with meat tenderizer.
- Add salt and dried raisins.
- Fill Mason jar.
- Fold a cabbage leaf in 4 to cover any air space between the top of your cabbage and the lid of your mason jar.
- Screw Mason lid on, but not too tight as C02 will need to be released on a daily basis. We call this ‘burping your jar’, gently unscrewing it to release the air, and screwing it back on. Please note, it this step is missed, you run the risk of experiencing a burst lid and a big leaky mess on your counter!
- Ferment in a 65-72F environment for 7-28 days. This fermentation process allows the sauerkraut to create more lactic acid producing bacteria activity which in turn lowers pH and prevents spoilage.
- After 7 days, taste your ferment until it reaches the level of tartness that you want.
- Transfer ferment to your refrigerator.
*Salting your Kraut*
- Salt helps keep vegetables crisp. The less salt, the quicker the fermentation, but the softer the vegetables.
- The recommended ratio is 3T of salt per 5lbs of vegetables, although some prefer to use less. If a starter culture is used, less salt is required.
- Avoid containers made from metal or plastic as you want to avoid chemicals leaching into the mix.
- Ferments do best in temperatures ranging from 65-72F. It’s a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight as well. Remember, too cold of a temperature slows down the bacterial action.
*Burping Your Jar*
- C02 accumulates rather quickly inside the jars so it’s very IMPORTANT to unscrew the lid on a daily basis to release accumulated pressure inside.