[I made this probiotic-rich Beet and Turmeric Sauerkraut for Earth Fare!]
It’s resolution season!
When the New Year comes and we all get focused on eating better, it’s usually about removing foods–or eating less of them. But it’s also important to think about what foods we can add to our diet to improve our health. Homemade, traditional sauerkraut (and fermented foods in general) should definitely be something we get more of!
Fermented foods have become trendy in the health food scene, but our ancestors were eating them thousands of years before us. They did it to preserve food before the nifty invention of refrigerators, but it turns out there are a TON of health benefits from traditionally fermented foods, like sauerkraut and yogurt.
Fermenting not only extends the shelf life of food, it makes the food more nutritious for us to eat
Fermentation starts the process of breaking food down, so our bodies can use the nutrients more easily. The process of fermentation also creates thousands of health giving probiotics—the good bacteria we need to stay healthy!
Adding fermented, probiotic-rich foods like this Beet and Turmeric sauerkraut in your diet can help:
- Improve digestive and immune health
- Aid in detox and metabolism
- Balance hormones and reduce the risk of mood disorders
- Lower the risk of cancer and brain disorders
- Reduce inflammation and allergies
I like adding turmeric to my sauerkraut to bump up the anti-inflammatory benefits—and because it gives it such a bright and sunny look! (Side Note: You can use ground turmeric for convenience, but I actually prefer using fresh turmeric root in this recipe)
The golden beet adds great color and a slight sweetness (plus extra detox power) but you can easily swap it out for an apple or a pear. I do the pear version a lot, and it’s what I like to add to homemade Kimchi (a spicy Korean fermented cabbage).
The great part about making your own sauerkraut (besides the health benefits) is it’s so cheap! You don’t need any fancy equipment—a glass container like a mason jar is fine. One suggestion though: use a plastic mason jar lid instead of a metal one. (The salt can rust the metal lid)
Once the sauerkraut is ready, you can add it to salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, Buddah bowls…the sky is the limit! Just note that the probiotic power is most potent if the kraut is left unheated. I eat a forkful or two every morning in place of a store bought probiotic supplement.
Here’s to using delicious food as medicine in 2017!
- ½ large head of green cabbage
- 1 medium yellow beet (or 1 pear)
- 2 carrots
- 1.5 inches fresh ginger root
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder (or 2 tablespoons freshly ground turmeric root)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 cup filtered water
- Cut the cabbage in half and remove 1-2 clean outer leaves. Reserve.
- Shred half of the head of cabbage finely using the slicing attachment of a food processor (you can also slice or shred very finely manually). Grate the 2 carrots and the beet, finely grate the ginger and garlic, and add everything to a large mixing bowl along with the turmeric powder and apple cider vinegar.
- With your hands (I wore plastic gloves), mix all of the ingredients together, squeezing firmly to release some of the juices from the veggies. Pack the mixture tightly into a glass jar (you may need to use 2), leaving a few inches of space from the top.
- Dissolve the salt into the water, and pour the brine over the cabbage mixture that you’ve packed into the glass jar. Poke some holes using a knife or chopstick to get the saltwater all the way to the bottom of the jar and incorporated into the mix. Pour just enough water to cover the cabbage mixture.
- Pack the mixture down again until it is fully submerged, and cover with part of the reserved cabbage leaf (this helps shield the kraut from oxygen in the jar as it ferments). If you need to, add a bit more salty water so the mixture is covered with water.
- Seal the jar loosely with a plastic lid, or cover with a kitchen towel and a rubber band, and place in a warm spot in the kitchen for 5-7 days. If you are using a plastic lid, you can “burp” the kraut every couple of days by loosening the lid (this will release any built up gasses inside the jar). You know you have a good ferment when you see and hear bubbles within the kraut. A good probiotic-rich kraut will have a fizzy taste to it, similar to champagne. Finished sauerkraut will keep in the fridge for several months.
*Don’t worry if the top of the sauerkraut begins to brown in the fermentation process. It’s just a result of oxidation (the same way a cut apple will begin to turn brown). Simply remove the top browned layer. *The salty brine can cause metal mason jar lids to rust, which is why I recommend using a plastic lid.
I had someone tell me their kraut didn’t turn out as planned. Here’s a few tips to ensure the fermentation process goes smoothly:
- Use organic produce- pesticides on conventional produce can inhibit healthy bacteria from growing and thriving
- Use filtered water- tap water contains chlorine, which can also inhibit healthy bacteria from growing and thriving
- If you have to add more water, add more salt as well
- Really bruise your veggies by squeezing (hard) with your hands as you mix. Go on, let some tension out!
- When you open your jar after a few days, stick a fork to sort of stir things around and listen! (like literally put your ear close to the kraut). You should be able to hear it bubbling, which is a good thing!
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.