In the past decade, there has been a rising tide of research and resultant knowledge about the human microbiome. Probiotics are becoming as commonly familiar as antibiotics have been in our lifetime. The good news is that probiotics are freely available and easy to invite into our lives. The best news is that they can do wonderful things for our health.

At our house, we are joyously embracing the lore of fermented foods and beverages. Thanks to the internet, it is easy to find peers and mentors, which is how my husband became a committed kombucha brewmaster who supplies us with delightful daily beverages full of probiotics. But for a first project, one of the easiest fermented foods is sauerkraut, something I intend to have always in our fridge now that I’m retired.

This is a quick description of how I make a batch of sauerkraut. To end up with a litre (quart) jar full, I start with two medium organic cabbages.

Quarter and core the cabbages. Finely slice by hand or run through the food processor slicer. Weigh out 2 1/2 pounds of shredded cabbage and place it in a huge glass salad bowl or other non-plastic vessel. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sea salt or pickling salt. Be sure to use the correct salt to cabbage ratio. It’s also important that the salt does not contain any preservatives or anti-caking agents. Massage the salt into the cabbage, squeezing and squeezing to create the juice brine. This can take quite some time, so look on it as therapy. 

Pack the cabbage tightly into a glass litre (quart) jar and press it down hard to force out any air. Pour in the brine. Always, the cabbage needs to stay below the brine level. Leave about an inch of headspace. There are many ways to weigh down the cabbage so the brine stays on top. I invested in Masontop pickle pipes and pickle pebbles, and I’ve always been thankful for that purchase. So easy. 

 Now the sauerkraut fermentation process can begin. For the first two or three days, I leave the jar in the kitchen sink and cover it with a thick dish towel to keep it dark. I choose the sink so I remember to keep an eye on the fermentation process. You will have to burp your jar every day at first, and even so, the liquid may start to force its way out, hence the sink. Plus it’s fun to watch the bubbles start to form. After about five days, taste to see how sour it is. If it suits you, take out the weight, screw on the jar lid and put it in the fridge. The longer you leave it at room temperature, the more sour it will become. The same will happen in cold storage but at a much slower rate. After one to two weeks you should definitely move it to a fridge or cold cellar. 

This is an easy, wonderful source of homegrown, living probiotics that will do you much good. Eat a spoonful or two every day for your health!