Sauerkraut combines the health benefits offered by all cruciferous vegetables (a category which includes cauliflowers and brussel sprouts as well as cabbage) with the probiotic advantages derived from the fermentation process.
Cabbage offers a host of health benefits. It is high in vitamins A and C. Studies have shown the cruciferous vegetables can help lower cholesterol levels. Cabbage also provides a rich source of phytonutrient antioxidants. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and some studies indicate it may help combat some cancers. However, this already helpful vegetable becomes a superfood when it is pickled (Natural News).
I grew up eating this superfood - my grandparents and parents often had sauerkraut fermenting in the basement. Here's the recipe I used for my first try - simple and spicy, from Balanced Bites:
1-2 jalapeño peppers
1 large head of green cabbage, sliced into thin strips or grated (set large outer leaves aside)
1 Tbsp unrefined sea salt
2 large carrots, grated
2-4 cloves of garlic (2 if large, 4 if smaller), finely chopped
Black pepper to taste
Fire jalapenos over stove flame, let cool, then peel and slice into thin strips.
Place sliced cabbage into large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix and massage until brine forms - brine is the liquid that the salt pulls out of the cabbage which allows it to ferment without rotting.
Add jalapeños, carrots, garlic to the cabbage and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients and divide into 2 32 oz. sterilized wide mouth glass jars. If brine does not cover all vegetables, continue to mash down with wooden spoon or add more brine (use 1 tsp of salt to 1 c water). Place reserved outer cabbage leaves over veggies, then place weight on top (I used juice glasses filled with marbles) and submerge in brine.
Cover with cloth and let sit in cool location (not refrigerated) for 2 weeks.
Check the kraut every day or two to make sure there is enough brine, add if necessary. If any "scum" appears on the surface, skim off and discard.
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