Growing up a treat was always to have pickles or sauerkraut and I was told it was good for you. Little did I know that the sauerkraut and pickles I was eating were delicious but they were not a healing food.
To tell you the truth, I probably wouldn’t have cared at that point in my life. Fast forward many years and I’ve since discovered that the eating lacto fermented foods can heal not only your digestive tract but they can build your immune system, and reverse many diseases. So why isn’t everyone eating them?
My “gut” tells me that most people have no idea that there is a difference between the pickles or sauerkraut that you can get in the supermarket vs the lacto fermented vegetables you can purchase (in a few places) or make in the privacy of your own kitchen.
So what really is the difference?
- Lacto fermented vegetables are filled with probiotics that help our gut digest and assimilate our food
- Lacto fermented foods are raw and without any chemicals added
- Lacto fermented food has no vinegar in it
- Store bought pickles and fermented food like sauerkraut are generally pasteurized, have chemicals in them, sugar, vinegar and more
- Store bought pickled food has little if any live probiotics in them
When reading the ingredients of sauerkraut like Boars Head and some others what I noticed was yes, they contain cabbage, water and salt but then they also have Sodium Benzoate, sodium bisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. If you have a sulfite allergy that is a problem, Here’s an interesting article I found on the dangers of sodium benzoate
How can you ensure that you are receiving all the health benefits of the food you consume? You can make it yourself or purchase at a local farmers market or store that you ensure is making their pickles without the use of vinegar, sugar, heat and chemical preservatives.
Many years ago I found a very cool device called the Perfect Pickler to make my sauerkraut making “goof-proof” I since added them to my website as when I taught a fermenting class my students wanted them.
Last week I made my first version of Kimchi and everyone why has tried it, loves it. Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am loving mine.
Ingredients: ( I use all organic )
- Small to Medium green cabbage
- 3 scallions
- 3 carrots
- 1 small daikon radish
- 2 tablespoons salt (Himalayan, Celtic, any good salt – I use the brand Real Salt)
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- approx. 2 inch chunk of ginger
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (I use the Red Boat brand)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes ( I use the Frontier brand)
Food processor (or you can cut and shred anyway you like)
quart wide mouth mason jar
- Take the disc cover off the mason jar and trace around it on the outside of the cabbage, preferable over the heavy vein, cut 2 pieces like this and save them for later
- Chop the cabbage, I use the shredding blade in my food processor or you can just cut the cabbage into small pieces
- Sprinkle the salt over it, mix it up and leave it in the bowl with a plate over it and a gallon jar of water on top of the plate - what happens is the salt will pull the water out of the cabbage and you will come back after an hour or so to a puddle of water at the bottom of the jar then you will want to massage the cabbage mix so it is very watery (if you don’t want to wait, just begin massaging the cabbage/salt mixture and it will take maybe 15 minutes of this to get your desired result.
- In your bowl now add the grated carrot, and grated daikon radish (I use the grating blade in the food processor),
- Add the scallions that I chop up into small, maybe ¼” slices
- Add the chopped up garlic
- Add the ginger, peel it and chop up
- Add the fish sauce and the chili flakes
- Mix and then stuff into your mason jar – it should be very liquidy and you should not need to add any water to it.
- If you are using the perfect pickler, stop about 2 inches before the top of the jar, the pieces of cabbage you cut in step one, slice them in half and then put them in the jar at the top of the mixture as if you can imagine the top of a box would look when you are repacking it, zig zag the pieces so that all you see is the cabbage top and liquid above it.
- Place the overflow cup in, there should be enough water around the cup, then the lid and the airlock.
- If you aren’t using the perfect pickler you want to use something to weight down the cabbage under the fluid but be careful you don’t get any mold growing.
I let mine sit on my counter for 5 days and found it perfect, If its your first time fermenting you may want to stop at 3-4 days and you can leave it for a few weeks to ferment further, taste to see if its ready for you. (for me 5 days tastes right, if you want more probiotic activity it will become more sour, leave it longer)
Then put in your refrigerator and enjoy. Just a few tablespoons a day will be amazing for healing your gut.
Dr Andrew Weil makes a batch of Kimchi weekly using the perfect pickler. Try it. By eating these amazing fermented foods you can work on healing your gut which then creates health is every other part of your body. Enjoy !