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It’s harvesttime. Cabbages are available at a deal. Few people know that in the early 1900's, the biggest crop grown in this country was cabbages. That’s because they last a long time when put in a cool spot and they can be fermented into sauerkraut!
And sauerkraut is loaded with vitamin C and digestive enzymes. Most early ship explorers brought along huge barrels of sauerkraut once scurvy was identified as a vitamin C deficiency. And anybody with digestive problems can also be helped by eating a bit of sauerkraut at the beginning of meals. It stimulates the stomach to produce the all-important stomach acid.
Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
I bought two 5 pound cabbages from a local, organic farm for $15. Spent a little more on six medium carrots, one large red pepper, a small onion and one garlic. Brought them all home and started making sauerkraut. The carrots, peppers, onions and garlic are not absolutely necessary for sauerkraut, but I like the taste when they are added.
1. I sliced up one of the cabbages and put them into a large stainless steel bowl (be sure to pick one that you don’t mind denting).
2. Next, I took two garlic cloves and put them through the garlic press and into a small bowl. Remember, it takes garlic about ten minutes to make its medicine (allicin) after it is crushed or cut.
3. Then I washed and diced half the red pepper and onion and added it to the bowl. Three of the carrots were washed and grated and put on top. The garlic was then added from the bowl.
4. Finally, over it all, I sprinkled about 1 tablespoon of salt (I use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt).
5. Taking a meat pounder and putting on gloves (to avoid blisters), I began to pound the mixture, pulling the mix from the sides and turning it all around. It’s important to release the juices and this takes a bit of time and energy.
6. Once there is a good amount of liquid in the bowl, it’s ready to go into the jars. Put some in and press it down firmly.
The first cabbage filled more than half of a gallon jar.
7. I repeated the process with the second cabbage and was able to finish filling the gallon jar and also fill a quart leaving an inch of head space or air at the top. Placing a tiny bit of water in a pint Ziploc bag, I placed it on top of the ingredients so that they would all stay under the brine.
This mixture will then have to stay on the counter for three days or more—depending on how you like the taste—before being put into the refrigerator for storage. When I buy good quality sauerkraut from the store, it costs about $8 a pint. This made ten pints for $18.