It's time to prioritize our immune systems, y'all, if that thought has somehow not occurred to you in these last, oh, two years of pandemic life. This week's kraut is a good start and a good practice to continue. The ingredients have all been selected to boost and support the body's innate immune function, and the flavors align perfectly, too; this is a medicinal kraut, but it also one the best and most flavorful krauts, alive with citrus and warm with ginger and turmeric. We enjoy it year-round, but it is especially good in these winter months, when the air is cold and that person next to you just started coughing alarmingly. Eat it in small doses daily, the best kind of food-as-medicine.
Fermented foods increase your guts ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, as well as strengthening the lining of the gut itself. Regularly consuming probiotic foods like sauerkraut increases the amount and diversity of beneficial bacteria that dwell in our digestive systems. These beneficial bacteria, also known as gut flora, are an essential component of both digestion and immune function, and can help to regulate mood and food cravings, as well. In this time of viruses new and old, it's a good idea to incorporate sauerkraut and other probiotic foods into our daily eating habits, to strengthen our health before it becomes compromised.
Sauerkraut isn't hard to make, though it may seem intimidating to the uninitiated. In these modern times, we have become insulated from the smells, sounds, textures, and processes that used to be common to our ancestors. But what at first seems unfamiliar or strange can soon be remembered, as our taste buds and our guts get accustomed to the regular incorporation of fermented foods, and our ancestral memory reawakens and remembers the goodness that fermented foods have to offer. There is something deeply satisfying about the process of making sauerkraut or other fermented foods regularly; it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes of chopping, salting, and packing into jars, and after that, nature does all the work herself, transforming the vegetables by way of the naturally occurring bacteria that live on the surface of all fruits and vegetables. Give it a try, if you haven't already. Or perhaps, like many of us, you have dabbled in fermented foods before, but let the practice fall to the wayside after the novelty or the season faded. There is no shame in that, in picking up and putting down and picking back up again. Now, though, seems an especially appropriate time to pick the habit of fermentation back up again, to dust off our airlocks and stock up on sea salt; the times require that we all be on the lookout to keep ourselves as healthy and well as we can. Making sauerkraut is an especially rewarding process, and one with a minimal investment of time and equipment required. While we cannot all keep livestock, grow our own food, or spin our own wool, this practice of making fermented foods is accessible to everyone, requiring only a mason jar and a space on the countertop, and an airlock, if desired, for ease of maintenance.
Cabbage is in season at our local farmer's markets, and of course, carrots are available year-round. Citrus, as we discussed last week, is also at its golden orange peak right now. The time is ripe, friends! The temperatures are perfect for making kraut in this time of year; sometimes in the summer, the temperatures get too warm to ferment well. If you live in a house where the temperature fluctuates wildly, find a place where your bubbling kraut can be at a constant temperature, ideally around 70-75 °F.
We have so many recipes up on this site, and many of them are for fermented vegetables. That's because we are truly dedicated to helping our community make the best choices for themselves and their health, the health of our friends and family. We're committed to hyping and celebrating the local food and farm communities, because the food we eat is truly some of the best medicine that we can make, for ourselves and others, and we are so lucky to live in an area that produces some of the best fruits and vegetables that the world has to offer. If you're an old hand at fermentation, or new to the process, we have plenty of resources to get you started. Give it a try! Ask us a question if you get stuck! We're here to help, and it is in the best interest of everyone to be tending our health with especial care in these wild times. Be safe out there, friends. Eat kraut. Spread love.
By Jessica Tunis