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23 April 2008

Recipe: Real Sauerkraut (German style Kimchi)

Sauerkraut, German for sour cabbage, has become a generic name for fermented vegetables. Around the time of Captain James Cook, sauerkraut was a key preventative for scurvy by European seafarers. According to William Dufty, author of the Sugar Blues, sauerkraut was able to counteract the antinutrient properties of dietary refined sugar. Dufty's contention was that scurvy was not so much caused by the absence of fresh foods rich in vitamin C, but by the consumption of a diet high in refined sugar which depleted the body of vitamins and minerals and thereby contributed to the condition.

In the book, The Hidden Drug: Dietary Phosphate by Hertha Hafer, the author makes a very telling point when she writes that, "A spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before bed may ameliorate the symptoms of ADHD". She further notes that before the 1900's, those people living on a traditional diet did not suffer from ADHD. Fermented vegetables produce lactic acid and if the acetobacter microorganisms are present then it seems likely that some acetic acid will also be produced.

It is also worth noting that a number of Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies utilise fermented vegetables and fruits, such as Umboshi plums. Whereas raw cabbage, that is the ubiquitous coleslaw served at salad bars and fast food outlets, may lead to a depressed thyroid functioning if eaten in large quantities, fermented cabbage and other vegetables provide many health benefits and should not be under estimated for their healing powers. Kimchi is such a ubiquitous part of Korean culture that employees get a kimchi allowance with their pay. Koreans use a wide variety of vegetables, fruit such as apples, oranges and lemons, salted fish, sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds. You may wish to start with the following recipe and adapt it to your creative instincts.


One important secret to making really delicious yet medicinal cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry (Salad Spinner). Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.

Version 1

3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor or chopped finely with knife.
6 carrots

Version 2

3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
6 carrots, large, shredded in a food processor
3 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

To Make Cultured Vegetables

1. Combined all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Remove several cups of this mixture and put into blender.
3. Add enough filtered water to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well. (If using starter culture, see below)
4. Pack mixture down into a 1½ quart glass or stainless steel container. Use your fist, a wooden dowel, or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly.
5. Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
6. Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight “log” and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 –inch space. Clamp jar closed.
7. Let veggies sit at about a 70-degree room temperature for at least three days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!

Wipe the inside of the neck clean with a paper towel and screw on a plastic lid firmly to prevent any liquid spilling over. If you have concerns about pressure build up in the jar then you may wish to leave the lid slightly loose.

Store the jars on a stainless steel tray away from sunlight at room temperature (20-30 Celsius). Important: Each day push the sauerkraut down with a wooden spoon to keep the top layer wet. Ferment for 1-2days at 30 C or about 5 days at 20 C, before transferring the kimchi to a refrigerator. The sauerkraut matures with age.

1. Once you have filled the jars with sauerkraut then you may find it advantageous to spread a layer of grated cabbage over the surface of the sauerkraut to cover any pieces of chunky vegetables that might remain above the fermenting juice, and thereby end up growing mould. In the event that any mould forms on the surface just scrap it off. If the top layer dries out it is because the mixture was not wet enough to start with. If the sauerkraut goes off or grows suspicious looking mould, then discard it and start again. Some types of mould can provide mycotoxins. In the future ensure that the mixture is wet enough, either by grating the vegetables finer or bashing the vegetables in a large pestle to bruise the cell walls, or by adding additional kefir whey or EM. You may wish to add a little apple cider vinegar at the end of the fermentation period. You may also wish to experiment with using more salt.

2. Go easy on the chile. A little chile goes a long way in sauerkraut, and remember to wash your hands after handling it

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