A five-year study headed up by the Human Microbiome Project which included 200 researchers form 80 universities found that the human body is made up of more microbes than human cells. That’s right baby; we’re all just sacks of seething bacteria! Now before you freak out, remember that the word ‘bacteria’ has been given negative connotations by the Purell-fueled paranoia of the germ police. Bacteria come in good varieties too.
Healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our system help fight bad bacteria, aid in the absorption of nutrients and help in the manufacturing of hormones. Bacteria are responsible for processing our food, for extracting vitamins and producing anti-inflammatories.
Of course we have been managing just fine with the probiotics from natural foods, but our propensity for processed foods and the widespread use of anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizes are causing a dearth in the amount of probiotics we have access to.
A wide range of products claim to be high in probiotics, but few of them are. Most may have had high probiotic levels during the manufacturing process, but fluctuations in temperature from transportation or excessive refrigeration will have significantly reduced the amount of probiotic bacteria.
Opt for naturally fermented products because these already have probiotics by the pound. Traditionally prepared miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and fermented vegetables are a great source of probiotics. Fermenting your own veggies is quite easy.
How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
Sauerkraut recipe from The Kitchn
- 1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Mixing bowl
- 2-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or two quart mason jars)
- Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
- Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
- Cloth for covering the jar
- Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth
Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into very thin ribbons and place in mixing bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the top. Work the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage for 5-10 minutes with your hands until the cabbage is watery and limp. Pack the cabbage into the canning jar. Tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour off any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.
Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar.
If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days. Keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid. Taste it after 3 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months.
For more recipes as well as tips and tricks, go to Wild Fermentation.