Through a timeless process, still shrouded in biological mystery, vegetables, such as cabbage and cucumbers, become a nutritional powerhouse due to the process of fermentation. If you are new to embarking on the road to health, Healthy Eating Recipes – Cultured Cabbage will give you a jump start.
What you will be doing is transforming common vegetables into efficacious, functional foods overflowing with health benefits. Are ancestors new this long ago, but we are now re-discovering its wonders.
Why pay to supplement your microflora when you can make it at home for pennies a serving. Not only that, but most of the supplements on the market do not colonize the entire gastrointestinal tract. Ingesting daily amounts of fresh, fermented cabbage or pickles bathes our digestive tract, from our mouth to our colon with millions of friendly microbes. These friendly bacteria build upon our existing colonies with new, hearty microbes.
Cabbage in and of itself is very healthy for you, which you can read about its benefits in my Healthy Eating Recipes – Mushroom Stuffed Cabbage, but when you ferment the cabbage, it becomes extraordinarily beneficial to the body.
If you are wondering what happens during the fermentation process it is quite simple. Fermented foods are created when the starch or carbohydrates in basic foods are broken down and changed by microorganisms like bacteria, molds and yeasts into tinier, often times more digestible foods. Don’t confuse this process with rotting foods.What results when the process is completed is beneficial microorganisms that promote intestinal health.
What are some of the benefits of fermented foods?
- Important aid to the hard-to-digest foods so prevalent in this age, because they help start the digestive process, which starts in the mouth and continues all the way through the colon.
- Help balance stomach acid
- Help protect stomach and intestinal lining
- Help destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria
- Nutrients more absorbable
- Aids digestion enhancing bowel function
- Enhance immune function
- Probiotic foods can help control cholesterol levels
- Helpful in controlling Candida albicans and vaginitis
- Improve pancreatic function, which is a benefit to diabetics, the carbohydrates in lactic acid–fermented foods are already predigested, in other words, broken down. This will result in less burden on the pancreas.
- 1 medium head fresh cabbage, shredded – Select a firm, solid cabbage. Use organic, chemical-free produce; this way you will ensure that you will be working with healthy populations of beneficial bacteria.
- 2 tablespoons of fine sea salt (non-iodized, so it doesn’t kill the beneficial bacteria). It must be completely additive free. Verify on the label that the only ingredient is ‘salt,’ or ‘sea salt.’
- purified water – Ideally, water should be unchlorinated.
- 1 quart-size glass mason jar with lid
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)*
*Caraway seeds are widely used to cure various digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome. Caraway seeds promote digestion whereby preventing indigestion and other causes of stomach troubles. It adds bulk because of its dietary fiber content, which aids in regulating bowel movement and preventing constipation.
Mix shredded cabbage and sea salt. Bruise and mash cabbage and salt with a potato masher, meat tenderizer or wooden mallet. Do this until juices are released from the cabbage. The cabbage should end up quite juicy.
Place cabbage mixture into the glass jar. Use wooden mallet, spoon or hands to pack cabbage down into the jar, leaving two inches from the top of the jar.
Add enough water to fully cover the cabbage stopping one inch from the top of the jar. You want to leave air between the liquid and the top of the jar.
Cover the jar with the lid. The ideal temperature range for fermentation is between 60 and 80 degrees, in the lower end, produce will ferment slowly and develop more complex flavors, in the upper range, the cabbage will ferment quickly, and might become mushy and undesirable. Leave at room temperature 3-7 days. After fermentation process, store in refrigerator. Will keep for about 2-3 months.
There is enough information to fill a book on fermentation which I cannot cover in this recipe. I am just touching the surface to show you the benefits of incorporating fermented foods into your healthy eating plan. Of course, always do your due diligence in learning about this amazing health food to make sure fermented foods are right for you.