A few months ago, I was introduced to the concept of probiotics and how they work with our bodies. I would never have guessed the change that occurred after their introduction into my system.
I always considered myself a fairly healthy eater, indulging sparingly and watching my intake of calories and nutrients diligently. It was only after my partner mentioned the function of probiotics in the system and how they affect the many functions of the gut -- and how we feel as a whole. Holistically, the concept of probiotics made sense.
I started my quest into probiotics gently, with products like kombucha and premade, naturally fermented vegetables. I noticed a change in my ability to concentrate and overall bodily function, not to mention better regularity.
These changes were enough to make me ramp up my intake and consider producing my own fermented probiotic products. I luckily remembered that my mother had a friend that was a pro, and so on a trip home last December, I scheduled a meeting with Luann Raadt.
She had been a paraprofessional and coworker of my mother’s during my youth at the elementary close to my home. She had started her holistic journey a few years prior, and her accumulation of herbs and natural healing substances was something to be revered. Anytime you go to her home she presents you with a new tincture or blend that has specific uses.
Her fervor for natural healing is contagious and I caught the contagion. She let me sample all of the products that she had been making. She pulled a plethora from her fridge.
Beet kvass is the juice from brine-fermented beets; kefir, a bacterial fermented milk that contains billions of probiotics. Fire Cider is a blend of multiple probiotic-rich vegetables and herbs that is then strained, and the juice is consumed to battle cold symptoms. She also had multiple flavors of kombucha. It was a wonderland.
She taught me a few very simple procedures and then sent me with recipes and other reading materials. When I got home, I got to work. I am currently on my third batch of sauerkraut, and every time the end result is better. It feels good to produce something in your home, by yourself, that can improve your mood and your health.
Producing sauerkraut is actually pretty simple. You have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start producing mold, and that the majority if not all of your cabbage is in the brine.
When I make mine, I start with a standard Ball mason jar. If you’re using the pint jars, you can only fit about a half a head of shredded cabbage. I recommend using two. More Sauerkraut!
If you want to shred the cabbage with a food processor, you can. I prefer my sauerkraut a bit finer and less chunky. If you prefer a chunkier style, you can chop it with a knife. Once you have the cabbage chopped, pack as much as you can in the jar or jars with enough room for the brine.
After you have the jars filled with cabbage I prefer to use a bit of starter for my fermentation, so I put about a quarter cup of the juice from the premade sauerkraut from the cooler section at the grocery store, preferably Bubbies, and then fill the rest with filtered water.
Once you start producing you’ll have your own starter liquid, but for now you’ll need some for your first batch. Once you have filled the jar with water, sprinkle a tablespoon or so on top of the liquid, reseal the lid and shake. Some of the cabbage will rise above the water, so I take a small tool or a jar that fits inside the lip, and pack the cabbage down again.
Removing the center from the lid of the canning jar, I then take an unbleached coffee filter, stretch it over the lid of the jar, and screw the lid rim back on.
The important thing is to let the mixture breath. I usually check once a week to make sure the whole mixture is submerged, mashing it back down again. Continue this for approximately a month. I sometimes cut mine short because I prefer a bit of crunch to persist in my cabbage. It’s all up to the producer.
When the kraut has reached the desired consistency, unscrew the lid and replace the filter with the canning center again and throw it in the fridge to enjoy. I often start the process all over again, so that I never run out.
The power of probiotics is real. Enjoy and eat well!
by John Showalter
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