In the past year, science has shown there's a link between gut bacteria and food allergies. Cathryn Nagler of the University of Chicago showed that a particular gut bacteria called Clostridia blocked peanut allergies in mice. Here is an article describing her study. Nagler's team suggested that increasing our gut bacteria with probiotics may help or even prevent food allergies in people. One way to do this, according the Chris Kresser, is to eat cultured foods like sauerkraut. It turns out sauerkraut is not only allergen-free but also delicious.
Most of the sauerkraut you can find in the supermarket is not 'alive' with beneficial bacteria, and the brands that are tend to be pretty expensive. It turns out that making your own sauerkraut is not only cheap but also quite easy!
The ingredients for sauerkraut are incredibly simple: cabbage (green or purple), sea salt, and optional flavorings.
First, core the cabbage and finely slice it:
Put the sliced cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sea salt and spend 5-10 minutes massaging it with your hands. This will draw the moisture out of the cabbage:
Here is a picture of the cabbage after massaging for just 5 minutes. You can see that it is quite moist. At this point you can toss the cabbage with any flavoring you'd like. My recipe below has 3 options.
The next step is to pack the cabbage into your mason jar. For a small head of cabbage, I used a 1-quart wide-mouthed jar. You can pack it with a wooden spoon. As it packs, the water will rise to the top:
The cabbage will need to stay submerged in the liquid while fermenting. To do this, simply stick a smaller mason jar filled with weights like rocks or marbles on top. Look at that beautiful purple water:
Then, to keep bugs out but still allow fermenting gases to escape, cover the jar with a cloth or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Place in a sunlight-free spot between 65 and 75 degrees for 3-10 days or more. Every once and while press down on the inner jar to release gases and to keep the cabbage submerged in water.
Check the flavor and texture after 3 days of fermenting. If it tastes good, place the lid on top and store in the refrigerator. You can also continue fermenting for many more days.
Enjoy your sauerkraut as a side dish (don't cook it!) and know that you are doing something healthy for your gut.
Mason Jar Sauerkraut 3 Ways
- 1 head cabbage (green/purple), 2-3 pounds
- 1 1/2 T sea salt
Optional flavorings (choose 1):
- 1 T minced/grated garlic
- 10-12 juniper berries
- 1 T caraway seeds
- Clean: Always start with clean jars and hands!
- Slice: Remove outer leaves from cabbage head, then core and finely slice.
- Toss: In a large bowl, toss sliced cabbage with sea salt and massage with your hands for 5-10 minutes. The cabbage should become wet. Toss the wet cabbage with flavoring of choice (or not - simply cabbage and salt are just fine!)
- Pack: Using a 1 or 2-quart wide-mouthed mason jar and a wooden spoon, firmly pack the cabbage into the jar. The liquid should rise to the top and cover the cabbage.
- Weigh: Once the jar is packed, take a smaller jelly jar filled with rocks or marbles and place it on top of the cabbage. This will keep the cabbage submerged beneath its liquid.
- Cover: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a coffee filter or cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting in the jar.
- Press: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the jelly jar. This will release the fermentation gasses, compact the cabbage, and allow the liquid to rise over the top.
- Wait: Keep the jar in a sunlight-free area between 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid. Allow it to ferment for at least 3 days but even up to 10 days. When it tastes good to you, remove the weight, place the cap on, and refrigerate.
- Store: Sauerkraut can be stored in the refrigerator for at least 2 months.