Search Discussions

Main Content

  • maria1
    I just got an email, an nmss newsletter stating that there is a difference in the gut bacteria of persons with ms and those who do not have ms, and that it may have an influence in inflamation.
  • squareroot
    Yes, I saw that too.  I have been trying to give up sugar for that reason (but it's really hard with such a strong sweet tooth).  Also been trying the more paleo approach to my gluten-free & dairy-free life. I am only a week into it, but hoping it helps.  Also, trying to change my gut microbiome with fermented foods and beneficial bacteria.  *fingers crossed* that this dietary experiment works.  I'd like to hear from others with MS who have tried to make a happy gut.
  • maria1
    If you have a favorite fermented recipe please share it. thank you.
  • levo12
    Hi, Maria!

    I am not familiar with "fermented foods" as referenced in the posts here.  Are you talking about homemade sauerkraut and yoghurt, or maybe kimchi?  Is "fermented food" something beyond that?
  • maria1
    A proven kimchi recipe would be appreciated, I have one but am reluctant to make it because if it does not come out well I would have a lot of it.  Franks makes a good sauerkraut in the can, not sure if it is as fermented as necessary, There are other things that are fermented, saw on pbs but forgot what it was, maybe beans. Miso is good. Maybe I am just getting lazy taking probiotics instead.
  • levo12
    Thanks, Maria!  It looks like I understood what was being talked about in the posts afterall.

    I have made sauerkraut at home and I have eaten kimchi.  I will have to look at recipes, but I have seen kimchi being made and except for some seasonings (kimchi has lots of red pepper flakes and/or dried ground red pepper) and ingredients (Napa cabbage versus regular heads of cabbage) the techniques of making kimchi and sauerkraut look essentially the same.

    You'll need to make this in a food safe crock or plastic container.  I used a restaurant food/frosting bucket that I got for free at a local grocery store.  It will hold 3 small - average size whole heads of cabbage, more if you shred the cabbage.  Don't use metal containers, especially not aluminum.

    The vegetables all need to be kept completely under the salted brine.  The brine is made by salting the vegetables enough to draw out the liquid normally inside them.  Keeping the vegs under the brine can be accomplished with a water or brine-filled zip lock bag sitting on a ceramic dinner plate.  That is one way to do it.  There are also special containers that feature a water "lock" on them.  It is sort of a ring around the container that the edge of the lid sits in that is kept filled with water .  Gas generated by fermentation will cause this kind of container to "burp" now and them as the gas escapes from the water lock. You keep the cabbage under the brine in those crocks with a special made ceramic weight.

    It doesn't take that much salt.  The way I was taught to make sauerkraut (by people direct from central Europe) the cabbages (always the green kind, not blue) were left whole (except for the outermost leaves, which get tossed) and the root end of the cabbage which is cored out in a cone shape.  The only salt added is just enough to fill the space left in each cabbage by the coring process.  The salt used is always the large grain Kosher-type salt, not ihe iodized table salt kind.  

    I made my sauerkraut right in the kitchen and everything was done outside the fridge.  After a of day the salt draws water out of the cabbage and that makes your brine.  The brine level may need to be adjusted so that everything gets covered with liquid.  If more liquid is needed, boil some water in a glass or stainless steel container.  Add Kosher salt to adjust the salinity of your brine addition.  Let the water cool to room temperature before adding it to the brine around the cabbage.  Don't add too much salt as it will stop the beneficial yeast and bacteria from growing.  

    You will want to taste the brine around the cabbage to check it against the salinity of the freshly made brine you are going to add.  There are tools you can use to measure the salinity (I am having an MS moment and can't recall the name of the tool.  It is a graduated float-like device for measuring the specific gravity of a liquid.  A gravimeter?)  I am sure you can find one on line, though I doubt that any Wally World or discount store will ever have one.        

    Observe the brined cabbage every day and watch for tiny bubbles coming up to the brine surface.  This is an indication the cabbage is fermenting.  Eating a bit of the young sauerkraut reminds me of the story of the monk who first made champagne exclaiming "I can taste the stars!"  As you eat the young sauerkraut you can feel the tiny bubbles of fermention bursting and gently tickling your palate. 

    You need to skim the surface of the brine from time to time as anything that isn't totally submerged may start to grow other organisms.  (It is easy for little shreds of cabbage to float to the surface.  You always have to remove those.)  You may also need to clean the plate and bag keeping the cabbage heads submerged.  The top of the brine water should always be cleared of scum that comes from the brine.  An easy way to do this is with a clean paper towel or a spoon.  Skimming daily is a good idea.

    Notice you do not add vinegar to your homemade sauerkraut.  The bacteria and yeast naturally on the cabbage will grow and cause a slightly sour taste to develop.  The vinegar is added only as part of a canning or stabilization process.

    You should cover the top of the sauerkraut container with a couple of layers of cheesecloth. Simply drape it over the container and hold it in place away from the brine with a long rubber band.  This is to prevent flies and things landing in your crock/frosting bucket/container.  It does not need a lid.

    After four days to a week or so if you are getting occasional bubbles you will have made a very mild sauerkraut.  The longer it ferments in the brine the stronger the kraut will become (up to a point).  You will notice the cabbage also turns somewhat translucent as it sours. 

    If you have never had homemade kraut it is truly different than the kind found in cans and bottles.  It is much more mild and palatable.  Making it from scratch turns it into a real delicacy.  The stuff in a can or jar just knocks you over with the strong vinegar taste.  

    Once you have fermented the kraut to a suitable degree it can be placed in the fridge to drastically slow (but not arrest) any biological activity.

    I have read about other ways to make it, including shredding the heads with a mandolin-type device and pounding salt into the cabbage to speed up the brine making process.  I have also heard of shredded carrot being added to the cabbage, as well as onions and caraway seeds.  I have eaten sauerkraut that way, but have never made it.  I have heard of adding apple pieces to the brined cabbage in the crock, though I have never tried it that way.  Grated tart apples in blaukraut is very good, though that is a cooked dish, not a pickle.  

    By the way, when the heads of cabbage are left whole you simply peel the leaves off the cabbages in the brine or cut up the whole head... however much you need.  It is a convenient way of adding a vegetable to your lunch.  You can eat the sauerkraut raw, too.  I would guess that gives the maximum boost to your system.  Some people even drink the sauerkraut juice.  I have sampled it, but I was after the vegetables.

    I don't really wash the head of cabbage before brining it.  That is where the beneficial yeast and bacteria live that turn the cabbage into sauerkraut.  I do trim off bad parts of the cabbage head:  damaged leaves, etc.  If you are curious, deli style pickles (half-sours) are made essentially the same way as the sauerkraut.  I have better luck making them completely in the fridge.

    I have not made sauerkraut in a couple of years, but I have gotten into making mustard from scratch.  As far as I know it is not fermented, but it is tasty.  In the past I have made sausages,  bratwurst and liverwurst from scratch, too.   Watch for the opening of a Levo's Deli in a town near you sometime soon. 

  • maria1
    Levo, thank you for the gift, it makes sense. I triede to make kraut once and only ruined the crock. It was a five gallon that the liquid leached through and peeled all the coating off the surface. I have a container we used to make wine that ought to work. How important do you think, measuring the salinity is, and what would be a measure? I shall have to order some cheesecloth so a salinometer ought to be added to the list?

    I agree, canned kraut is not beneficial but Frank's does taste good and does not have to be rinsed. One of my mothers in law taught me to rinse the canned or bagged cabbage to remove soooooo much of the salt, especially making kapusta. Boy kapusta with fresh kraut must be awesome.

  • levo12
    I was thinking about the canned sauerkraut and wondering whether you need live cultures to confer a benefit to your gut bacteria.

    If you are eating the canned or jarred sauerkraut it has probably been pasturized in the canning process so everything is dead in there.  I am guessing you would get the benefit of live cultures from the homemade kind of sauerkraut.
  • levo12

    I have not tried to measure the salinity of any of the sauerkraut (or pickles) I have ever made.  The "scientific" and reproduceable way would be to measure, but I am certain my grandparents never did, nor did the people from Europe who showed me their way of making the kraut.  If you just try completely filling the cone in the base of the cabbage with Kosher salt I am sure you'll do fine.  The process really works, just tend to the brine and skim it daily and keep it free of any floating vegs.
    There are some books around that detail the process and can give you accurate measurements of ingredients.  (I want to say Michael Ruhlman is the author of such a book, but I am not certain.)  Books are great, but it isn't the (medieval) way I learned to do it.

    One reason I like the "whole cabbage" technique to making kraut is that you don't have to constantly fight with little shreds of cabbage floating around in the brine and eventually up to the surface and to the air.  The shredded stuff that floats to the surface feeds the scum production.
    Let me know if you attempt a batch of sauerkraut.  It is a bit hot out to do it now.  Some people say waiting until after the first frost is best.  (The cooler temps make for better sauerkraut fermentation.)  Plus the cabbage picked in cool weather tends to be far superior. 

    Do you ever make sauerkraut, kapusta and scraps?    
  • maria1
    I failed at sauerkraut, maybe because I shredded it and did not skim it every day, yes, I have made kapusta but not with fresh sauerkraut, that I think would be awesome. What is scraps?

    I am going to wait for cooler weather to ferment, Leaving it whole seems like a cleaner operation, thank you.
  • levo12
    Scraps are oddly cut noodles.  They are usually made with a dough containing sour cream. 

    The cut of the noodles reminds me of Italian "maltaglia", or "bad cuts" / "bad tailor", only larger.    They are irregularly shaped, squarish or roughly triangular noodles.

    The noodles (scraps) are boiled seperately, while the cabbage is first braised by itself.  Onion slices (thin pole to pole segments) are added to the cabbage as the braising continues.  When that cooks down the sauerkraut and cooked noodles are combined with the cabbage and onions and everthing is lightly fried together with butter to add a bit of color.

    The finished dish is usually served with sour cream as a garnish or as just a bit on the side.