Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saurkraut and fermented foods

Yesterday , to celebrate the New Year, I made something that is going to improve both mine and my families health- sauerkraut ! Did you know that sauerkraut is an incredibly healthy food if it is not the pasteurized creation found in  today's stores, AND that it is incredibly easy to make ? It's true. With home made sauerkraut you get the benefits of a cruciferous vegetable, a pro biotic and more ? Consider the following:
What is so good about sauerkraut and other such foods ? Lactic acid bacteria - LOTS of lactic acid bacteria. They act as probiotics in our gastro-intestinal tract. Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in our intestinal tract, which helps us to digest food properly. 70 percent of the human immune system lies in our intestinal tract- insure that this is running healthy and the rest of the body will follow suit.

Lactic acid fermented foods such as sauerkraut have made up a significant portion of food eaten by humans for a long time and still do in many developing countries, eg in Africa. Lactic acid fermentation is the simplest and usually the safest way of preserving food.There is archeological evidence that humans have always used this form of food preservation, and it was the primary way lactic acid bacteria was ingested. Our need for this bacteria has remained, in spite of how our industrialized food processing methods have developed. The result has been immunological problems , gastrointestinal problems and more.Be nice to your insides and say yes, to the benefits of sauerkraut!

From  Sauerkraut .com
1. Sauerkraut as immune booster One of the not so secret benefits of sauerkraut is the boost it gives to immune systems. Packed with vitamins andminerals, sauerkraut has been used as a lay immune booster for centuries.Sauerkraut contains phytochemicals which are created during the fermentation process. These naturally occurring, beneficial by products of sauerkraut help boost the immune system which leads to a decrease in a number of health problems. The common cold, skin problems, weight gain and tainted blood are all fixed by a healthy functioning immune system.
   2. Sauerkraut as cancer fighter
      The most recent evidence of sauerkraut's status as a Superfood is found in numerous studies on the cruciferous wonder's cancer fighting properties. The results of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that sauerkraut is a cancer inhibitor. The study discovered that the fermentation of cabbage produced a substance called isothiocynates, which prevents cancer growth, particularly in the breast, colon, lung and liver. Although raw cabbage is normally rich in a compound called glucosinolate, the researchers found that during the fermentation process enzymes are released that completely decompose the compound into several breakdown products. The majority of these products are cancer-fighting isothiocyanates. The University of New Mexico published a study linking sauerkraut consumption by adolescent females to a reduced risk for breast cancer earlier studies indicate sauerkraut may reduce the risk for other forms of cancer including lung, colon, prostate, and liver We are finding that fermented cabbage could be healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, especially for fighting cancer, says Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, Ph.D., research manager of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, located in Jokioinen, Finland. A recent study by the American Center for Cancer Research has found that sauerkraut has a profound effect in preventing and healing breast cancer. Based on reports that breast cancer rates amongst polish women in the United States were much higher than those in Poland researchers set out to find out why. Their answer; the women who still lived in Poland ate significantly larger amounts of sauerkraut especially important while they were in adolescence. The research found that the women who immigrated Americanized' their diets and stopped eating as much of the super food that is sauerkraut thus increasing their rates of breast cancer.
   3. Digestive Aid
 Eating sauerkraut is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contain the bacterium Lactobacilli plantarum. L. planatarum is a very dominant strain of healthful bacteria which helps your digestive system in the following ways: boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease help inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast) create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the antinutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium. These various properties are the best scientific reasons given for what has been known by loyal users for millennia, sauerkraut cures an upset stomach and is the best natural physic there is. Many sources say raw fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system by increasing the healthy flora in the intestinal tract or creating the type of environment for them to flourish. Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional folk remedies for constipation. Fermentation actually increases nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods are also said to facilitate the breakdown and assimilation of proteins. They have a soothing effect on the nervous system. The benefits of sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice have been recognized for generations. In some families of southern Germany, the children are fed raw sauerkraut twice weekly to support their intestines. Today it is thought that these benefits may relate to a high proportion of lactic acid in sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice that naturally supports the digestive processes, maintain intestinal flora, and increase the feeling of well-being.
   4. Flu Fighter
      With the spread of Avian Flu spreading across the globe, one enterprising Korean scientist, Kang Sa-Ouk of Seoul National University, took 13 chickens infected with avian flu virus and a couple of other diseases, fed them Kim chi extract and found that 11 of the birds recovered. Experts think the vital bacteria are created during the fermenting process and this gives the dish its health-boosting qualities.

So how to you make it ? You will need a cabbage, some clean jars with secure lids, a sharp knife, cutting board and sea salt

I grabbed 4 jars just in case. Start by thinly slicing your cabbage, packing it into the jar , and when you get about an inch of cabbage sprinkle on a little salt and begin to mash the cabbage with a wooden spoon. Press, poke, whatever and you willo begin to notice a liquid forming. Then add more cabbage, more salt and more pressing until you have your jar filled up to an inch away from the top with liquid covering

Cover with the lid securely and let set 3 days.It is then ready to eat, or can be moved to cold storage and stored indefinitely. Flavor improves with age.In my case it will be a refrigerator , as I have no root cellar. I am not certain what the procedure  would be for canning this - hot water bath or pressure canner.
 2 jars from one medium sized head. It was so much fun to make and so amazing to see how it came together that I got a little crazy and also made
Fermented apple beet relish- a condiment made in the same fashion with apples, beets and  spices added- will be ready in 2 days

Morroccan Preserved Lemons- another condiment made in a similar fashion with Meyer Lemons . This one will be ready in 3 weeks. I also made another batch of Beet Kvass- I am really enjoying the taste and affect of that drink !


Jeremy Logsdon said...

You continue to amaze me with your unconventional but old school methods. :) I'm tempted to try the saurkraut that way. How does it taste compared to store bought?

Di said...

I will let you know in 3 days. I have never had the opportunity to try "old school" sauerkraut yet. I love commercial saurkraut, soaked grains and things like sourdough, so my expectation is that this is going to be good.

spunkysuzi said...

I'm going to try that sauerkraut as i have two big jars that i can use. The other jar already has preserved lemons in it. We must have made those at the same time :)
What do you plan on using yours in??

Di said...

The lemons I plan on using in the same way you would use a pickle ( simple side) or add to chicken or tunas salad. It's going to be fun playing with it ! Turns out my husband bought too many Meyer lemons to fit in the jar and so yesterday at lunch I taught the guys how to make lemonade from scratch. It may have struck a blow in my personal war against diet sodas :-)

Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

I love your food experiments, Diane! So cool!

Shae said...

I love saurkraut. I will have to try making it myself. Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, this seems like a farily easy recipe to make Sauerkraut. I remember my dad used to make Sauerkraut. He had this huuuge pot in which the Kraut would sit for ages, eventually stink like hell until we demanded it be moved outside, which was when the Sauerkraut was ready. The results were pretty tasty, though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an interesting post. I really should get into sauerkraut and be a good German (that I am).