I want to share an ancient recipe that has been around for over 2500 years. It was hidden under the label of “condiment” for the past century, but with the rise of the fermented food movement, this tangy delight has gained a resurgence of respect for its medicinal properties.
It’s crispy, salty and satisfyingly sour. It’s sauerkraut.
The fermenting of cabbage may date back as far as 700 B.C. It is believed that laborers working on the Great Wall of China began the practice by storing shredded cabbage in rice wine so it would last through the non-growing periods of the year. Legend has it that Ghenghis Khan later brought it with him to Europe.
The probiotic process used in sauerkraut-craft is similar to that used in the making of uncooked pickles and Kimchi, and allows the nutrients to be more easily digested and available to the body. It is high in C, B and K vitamins, a fabulous source of fiber, is thought to boost the immune system and is a popular folk remedy for cold sores.
The most exciting finding comes from a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Apparently, the fermenting of cabbage produces substances called isothiocynates which may actually prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Below is a 1000 year old healing sauerkraut recipe that I was taught by an herbalist friend.
Sacred Sauerkraut Recipe:
1 head of red cabbage
1 1/2 tbsp. sea salt
Spring water (enough to submerge)
Juice from 1 lemon
2 mason jars
1 tsp. dill seed
TIP: For extra flavor, try adding a tablespoon of fresh thyme or rosemary to your sauerkraut mixture before securing the lid.
• Using a large kitchen knife, slice the cabbage in half and cut out the stem core. Place each cabbage half on its flat side and carefully shred into thin strips. When finished, place shredded cabbage into a large ceramic or metal mixing bowl.
• Add sea salt, dill, and lemon juice to the mixing bowl and using your hands, mix all of the ingredients together. Squeeze and knead the cabbage shreds to really soften them up. Let this mixture sit for 30 minutes.
• Now it’s time to pack your mason jars with kraut! Using a serving spoon, scoop the cabbage mixture into each mason jar, leaving 2 inches of room at the top. There should be a line at the top of your mason jar, indicating how high to fill it with spring water.
• Drizzle a final bit of lemon juice over the exposed surface at the top of the jar. This will prevent the growth of any unwanted bacteria during the fermentation process.
• Seal each jar and place in a shady storage space that stays room temperature at all times. The fermentation process can take between 4 and 10 days depending on various environmental factors. Make sure to “burp” each jar every few days. To do this, simply unscrew the lid and let the effervescence release – then place the lid back on.
• After 4 or 5 days, start sampling the sauerkraut daily until it has reached the flavor and consistency you desire. Once you feel it has reached perfection, serve it up or place it in the fridge.
This ancient probiotic-rich food will stay good for months and makes for a highly nutritious topping or snack!