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How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
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Our hormones are greatly impacted by the health of our gut.

If our gut microbiome has been compromised by foods with preservatives, pesticides, and additives, then our digestion may not be up to par to absorb all the micronutrients we need for hormone regulation.

For example, leptin, the hormone that controls appetite and tells us when we are “full,” is impacted by the gut. A healthy colony of gut flora increases our sensitivity to leptin, helping us know when to stop eating.

Also, estrogen needs to be properly metabolized and eliminated from the body to prevent excess of this hormone, which can lead to symptoms like PMS, heavy bleeding, endometriosis, and fibroids. When the gut microbiome has enough healthy beneficial bacteria, digestion is improved and excess estrogen is properly eliminated.

What exactly is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the accumulation of microbes, fungi, bacteria, and even viruses that live in the human body, The more healthy bacteria (the probiotics) that are present in the intestines, the stronger our immune system becomes. This is because the good bacteria competes with the bad bacteria to survive. We can intentionally boost the good colony through incorporating fermented foods into our diet, regularly.

Sauerkraut and cultured vegetables, and drinks like kombucha and kefir, are all types of fermented foods. As foods ferment, healthy bacteria feed off the plant sugars and pre-digest these foods, giving you diverse strands of the “good” bacteria that strengthen your immune system, ward off sickness, and prevent leaky gut.

Probiotics not only help repair the lining of the intestines, but help you absorb more nutrients and fight infection. Probiotics provide a big immune system boost so you can have the energy and health to birth your dreams into reality, be a great mother or caregiver, create at work, and feel truly nourished.

Ancient cultures even fermented their food.

Sauerkraut, or the culturing of vegetables, is a practice known to have been used by many ancient cultures as a way to preserve fresh produce and enhance digestibility. Tribes that lived in climates with seasons could eat the cultured vegetables in colder months when winter made farming impossible. The ancient Greeks even called the process of fermenting “alchemy” as the lactic acid produced as a by-product from fermentation preserved fruits and vegetables and enhanced intestinal health from the accumulation of lactobacilli, what we know as healthy bacteria or probiotics.

I modern times, we see the art of fermentation in crafting beers, wine, and pickles. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and cultured vegetables are gaining popularity and are now sold in many health food stores as a way to promote a healthy gut microbiome.

It becomes easy! Once you get the hang of it…

If you want to start fermenting, it becomes easy after you practice. You can use just the basics: cabbage and salt, or add more herbs, spices, and vegetables. Once you shred the cabbage, you will add it to a bowl with salt and squeeze with your hands to break down the vegetable cellular wall. The massaged cabbage will then go into a clean jar with a lid and then you will wait for seven days. This waiting period is when the alchemical magic happens.

You can ferment all types of vegetables, and even add spicy peppers to make what is traditionally known as kimchi, a recipe originating in Korea.

My Sauerkraut recipe is simple but flavorful. I encourage you to practice! Making your own sauerkraut is a lot cheaper than purchasing it from the store. However, if you are short in time and need to buy it, look for a brand that says “live cultures” on the label. Some brands cook their sauerkraut, and cooking diminishes the living probiotics.

I would love to hear how it turns out for you! Comment below if you get stuck or have questions about this process.

Other options: create your own spicy Korean Kimchi with ginger, garlic, jalapeno, chili flakes, red peppers, cabbage, onion, and radish.

Sauerkraut

Serves: Makes 2 quart sized mason jars

Ingredients:

1 large green cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

6 garlic cloves, crushed and minced (about 1 Tablespoon)

1 ½ teaspoons ginger root, grated

½ teaspoon chili flakes (or 1 teaspoon if want more spice)

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Sanitize mason jars by simmering water in a skillet with the jars faced down over the water for about two minutes. This kills bacteria, so the jars are a clean vessel for the fermentation processes.
  2. Rinse cabbage and pull off the top two leaves and set aside for later use. Shred cabbage in a food processor using the slicing blade. It will be important to roughly chop the cabbage first in order for it to fit through the mouth of the food processor. Save the hard bottom of the cabbage and set aside with the top leaves for later use. Put shredded cabbage into a large bowl.
  3. Change the blade in the food processor and use the grating blade to grate the carrots. Add carrots to the bowl.
  4. Crush garlic with the knife by laying the knife horizontally on top of the garlic and pushing down with your hand. Mince garlic and add to the bowl.
  5. Add grated ginger, chili flakes, sea salt, and water to the bowl.
  6. Here comes the fun part! Use your hands to massage and squish the vegetables to break down the cellular wall. You can even use your fist to pound the vegetables. Squeeze hard; it can be a workout for the muscles in your hand! This step is important because you are breaking down the cellular wall of the plant, which is the first step in fermentation.
  7. You will notice the vegetables released liquid and this is called the “brine,” which is the liquid the sauerkraut will stay submerged under during the fermentation process once in the jar. It is important the brine completely cover the sauerkraut, because any vegetable that is not under this brine will oxidize from the air and may begin to mold.
  8. Evenly distribute sauerkraut and brine into two mason jars. Use the cabbage leaves you set aside in the beginning to put on top of the sauerkraut, to full submerge the sauerkraut under the brine. Cut the bottom of the cabbage in two parts and put each in the jar on top of the cabbage leaves. This will act as your weight, to keep the sauerkraut submerged under the brine. If there is not enough brine to cover the sauerkraut, add a little bit of water until the kraut is fully covered. Make sure there is about half an inch of air above the kraut before the top. This allows space for the kraut to bubble as it ferments.
  9. Screw on the top and place in a dark area or cover with a cloth. This is not supposed to go into the refrigerator, as the cold will not allow fermentation. Let the sauerkraut sit for about 7 days to ferment. If it is summer and your house is naturally warmer, the sauerkraut might ferment quicker, so check after 3-5 days. The jars will have bubbles, and when you take off the top, you may even hear it bubbling. The taste will have a taste similar to the way a fermented pickle tastes and the texture of the cabbage will be softer.
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