It’s the first of the year and of course cabbage is a traditionally eaten food, but to go in order with our discussion of the digestive system and probiotic yesterday, fermented cabbage is the chosen food of the day! It goes by many names: Sauerkraut, cortido, kimchi, and hum choy. Korea and other Asian countries eat little bits at kimchi with most meals. Chinese have used it for over 1,000 years. Ancient Romans, medieval Europe, Genghis Khan, Russia have all used fermentation. Call it or make it whatever way you like, but our ancestors sure had it right with this one. In order to eat vegetables during the cold winter months, they would ferment them so they could enjoy them the whole season long. Little did they know of the other benefits they were getting. by fermenting the food, it not only retained the nutritional benefits, but also enhanced them. We saw oon Wednesday how eating raw vegetables can be less affective and cooking is and option, but fermentation appears to be an even better preservation of vitamins and minerals. Cabbage’s vitamin C and A are more impactful then. Also it is easy to digest, as it has already partially been broken down. Other key notes:
- Soothing effect on the nervous system
- aid in digestion
- support immune function
- increases overall nutritional status
- its byproduct of short chain fatty acids can be used by the intestinal cells for fuel
So we have food that last for a long time and is great for the winter month, acts as a probiotic to restore healthy bacteria in the gut, is economical, breaks down easily during digestion and enhances vitamin and mineral concentrations? Sign me up! Cabbage is an ideal food for fermentation because it has an abundance of lactic acid bacteria (although virtually any fruit of vegetable can be fermented). Homemade rules in the realm of fermented cabbage, as store varieties have few to none live cultures because it has been pasteurized and the bacteria has been killed. Buying organic vegetables to make your own is best as it will have superior vitamin concentration, will be free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and will have more lactic acid. You can ferment foods whole notably beets), but shredding or slices will accelerate the process and increase surface area. Make sure to wash vegetables before and use a non- chlorinated water. Make batch and store at room temp for 2-3 days before moving to a dark-cool setting. Commonly added spices include: dill, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaves, red pepper, and coriander. Here is a recipe for Cortido:
- 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 cup carrots, grated
- 2 medium onions, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp sea salt
To make: in a large bowl mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red chile flakes, sand sea salt. Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. Place in a 2 quart-sized, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly with a pounder until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.
This is just one recipe for fermented cabbage, but you can easily find one more appealing toward your palate. I think they’re worth a try. Note: it needs to eat more like a condiment, not eaten as large batches. This is the last post of 2011, see you in 2012 for more into on health, longevity and life.