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Culturing or fermenting foods is a way of easily preserving them and at the same time encouraging the growth of good bacteria (probiotics) which have numerous health benefits. Cultured foods can make a huge difference in the way you digest, the way you feel and the overall health of your body. If you are new to this whole idea or fermenting and are a bit intimidated… I hope to put your mind at ease. Take a deep breath and give this recipe a try. Sauerkraut is a great basic recipe, and who knows, you may end up loving the process so much that you get really creative with other fermenting recipes.
Here are the basics just you get an over-all picture in your head. Place a fruit or vegetable, that you want to ferment in a jar/container. Add some salt. Side note: there are other “starters” that can be added but I find salt to be simple and easy. Salt helps to release the water that is inside the cabbage, creating a self-brine. Salt also acts as a natural anti-microbial, helping to minimise the growth of the ‘bad’ bacteria. Fill the jar to within an inch of the top with water. Then close the jar tightly with some sort of an air-lock system and leave out at room temperature for 2-10 days, depending how strong you want the flavor. Once the process is completed keep it in the refrigerator. I have read that the shelf life is anywhere from 2-12 months, depending on what produce is used. And there you have it… a safely preserved, probiotic rich, living food to use as a condiment, as a side dish ,to add to salsas, dips, smoothies…whatever!
The main thing to know is that making fermented veggies is NOT an exact science. If you are a serious recipe follower, you might need to let that go, relax, and jump right in! Have fun. The time frame that it takes to ferment/culture can fluctuate depending on room temperature. Every home kitchen varies in warmth, so some batches may ferment quicker than others.
There are many methods to making fermented veggies and over the years I have tested a few different methods. My favorite way is using the an air-lock system. There are many different ones on the market. You can purchase a complete unit containing a gallon jar, lid and air-lock system or you can just buy the air-lock tops that will fit any quart sized jar. There are even some great DYI sites out there that show you have to make your own lids, step by step if you are handy in the shop. With this device I never second guess what is going on in my lovely jar of fermenting. For more in depth reading I suggesting visiting Natural Cultured Health.
These systems provide an air-tight seal, reduces mold on top of ferments, release pressure/gas naturally. They also work with any different size wide-mouth glass mason-type “canning” jar. Another great feature is that your fermented foods can be stored right in the same jar so you don’t have to transfer it to another container. And most importantly… Simple to use! Wait, I have another “most importantly”…. with the air-tight seals that I listed below, you don’t smell your cabbage fermenting. When I use to make it the old school way, I was always apologizing to visitors for the smell.
Here are a few different systems:
The Perfect Pickler ~ this system can be used on any wide mouth jar.
The Perfect Pickler XL ~ this system is the same as the one above but allows you to make 1 – 1 1/2 gallon batches.
Kraut Kaps 3 Pack – Platinum ~ this is my favorite and the one I use.
Tuck away for 3-10 days, depending on how strong you like it.