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Cultured Vegetables
 

Amanda Love “The Barefoot Cook”

 

Amanda Love's Cooking

Delicious, Healthy Seasonal Recipes from the
 "The Barefoot  Cook"

 

Making fermented or cultured veggies such as Sauerkraut or Kim Chi is a great way to preserve and enhance the nutritional value of winter veggies from your garden or market such as cabbage and root veggies.

These foods have been used since ancient times for their medicinal benefits. Captain Cook sailed with large barrels of sauerkraut which supplied his crew with vitamin C and prevented scurvy. Fermented veggies not only add a nice extra bite to many a dish, but also add a powerful nutritional punch as well. When vegetables are cultured, the Lactobacillus acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria break down the sugars and cell walls in the vegetables making them much easier to digest.

Our gut is directly connected to our immune system. When we consume cultured veggies on a regular basis, we strengthen our immunity by enhancing the flora of our gut. This beneficial flora not only fights off dangerous invaders such as microbes and pathogens, but also produces vitamins and converts nutrients into neurotransmitters such as serotonin.  Cultured veggies are said to have hundreds of times the amount of nutrients as veggies that have not been cultured. Simply eating a few bites of something fermented with your meals will not only help you digest your meals, but will also promote good energy and health.

Ingredients:

Equipment – 1-2 quart size mason jars; large mixing bowl

4 cups of shredded cabbage – cut into thin slices; save some whole, large leaves

2 tablespoons sea salt

(the following ingredients are optional; cut all veggies into thin slices):

2 carrots

1 daikon radish

1 turnip

1 bunch scallions

2 tablespoons fresh grated, peeled ginger

2 cloves garlic - slices

Dried red chili (this will make it a little spicy)

Spices: Cumin, coriander, fennel, dill, caraway, mustard seeds

 

Instructions:

There are many different ways to make sauerkraut or fermented veggies. The old fashioned method involves pounding. There are other new methods which involve juicing or blending. Some methods call for added probiotics. This method is my favorite and it involves massaging. I learned it from Jessica Prentice who wrote the wonderful book, Full Moon Feast. 

Simply mix all veggies and/or spices together in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Massage mixture with your hands for 5-10 minutes until lots of juices are released. Then place veggie mixture into jars and press down so veggies are tightly packed.

You want the juice to cover the veggies while leaving 1 inch of space from the top of the jar. If you do not have enough liquid to cover your kraut, add some brine which you can make by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt in 1/3 cup of water.  Fold the large cabbage leaves and press them down over your massaged vegetable mixture. Make sure the liquid is also covering the large cabbage leaves. If any of the veggies are exposed to air, they will rot and may turn brown. If this happens, simply remove this part and press your veggies down again under the brine.

The ideal fermenting temperature is 60-65 degrees. When fermented in a jar, this process can take from 3 days up to 1 week. Cover with a tight fitting lid. You can check on your kraut every few days or so, but make sure not to contaminate it with your hands or a fork you have used.

You know your kraut is fermenting when you see little bubbles and when you hear a fiz or slight pop when you open the jar. You can stop the process anytime by placing your fermented veggies in the fridge. They will continue to ferment, but much more slowly. Enjoy this ancient method of preserving vegetables and enhancing your health!

 


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