210: Are fermented foods good for you, what are the health benefits of sauerkraut, and how to make sauerkraut at home? With Holly Howe!
February 25, 2020
Welcome back to the podcast! Today’s guest is Holly Howe! In this episode she'll be answering these questions:
Why should I eat sauerkraut (I don’t even think I like it!)?
Don’t I need an expensive fermenting crock?
Isn’t sauerkraut hard to make?
Is making sauerkraut at home safe?
Can I improve my digestion—and health—just by eating sauerkraut?
Check out their website HERE: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/
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[00:00:00] Hey, guys, welcome to this week's episode and I'm so excited we have Holly how and she has a Web site called Make Sauerkraut dot com. And today we're talking all about some of the basics and some of your pro skills that you need to do to be fermenting like a pro in no time. Sal, welcome. Holly, Thank you for having me, Shantelle. Till I'm excited to share the wisdom of fermentation with everyone. So it is an odd thing that you have I like you're the only person I've ever met that that's like their skill, right, is how to make sauerkraut. So what kind of got you into this? How did you start making sauerkraut? How did you get passionate about it? And tell us some little instructions on how to do it. OK, well, I'll go there. First off, getting into making sauerkraut is really kind of like a lifelong journey. I've always been been interested in good foods and health. And what I eat to me really matters. And so I've always looked for, quote, the perfect diet out there. So over many years, I've looked at different diets and books and ended up not delving too deep into any of them because they always seem so restrictive to me. And I like my eating to be free and more what I can eat versus what I can't eat. But I think that came from a lot of traveling as a teenager with my family. And then I lived in Germany for four years in my late 20s, and all my memories of that time are connected with food. I traveled to like northern Tunisia and tried all the oil we found out in the desert there and grew to choose an all and Holland and traveling through Russia. [00:01:43][103.7]
[00:01:45] And actually, I think now that I look back, it was cool. I tried to walk down this little alley, Leningrad, and was invited into this little elderly woman's home and she gave me this fermented tea. And now, looking back many years later, I realized that was lucha. And the market they're going in and the whole place is just permeating with the smell of a fermented garlic. And in Germany, even all the fermented foods and sauerkraut that were served with just about any meal and did not like the sauerkraut that time. But eventually came across the Diet Nursing Traditions book by Saudi Bellen and that focus based upon a diet that Western a price discovered HEEMS Dundies back in the 30s and 40s, and was looking for people who had perfect teeth and the right Droste jaw structure and went around the world looking for people as a missionary. And the people who came across, who looked at their diets, we found only 14 groups of people that had perfect teeth and none of the diseases of that time period. And you looked at what they were eating and how they prepared it. And fermented foods were a part of every single diet. And that's kind of what got me started on having fermented foods to my diet. And sauerkraut was one of the first ones because I could easily find that time and soon it got too expensive to buy and we started making it. That's awesome. Well, before we get into it, I want you to time to talk about how to make it. Before we do, let's just talk about why is sauerkraut such an easy and flavorful like probiotic food that you really need to add to your system? Like how does it improve your digestive, your digestion, boost your immune system, like help with brain function? What is it actually doing? Well, you have to first of all, when you're having sauerkraut to your diet, you have to make sure you are getting the naturally fermented sauerkraut. [00:03:44][119.8]
[00:03:46] Most of the sauerkraut that we see on the store shelves will be found down the aisles in the can. And that is not going to be full of the probiotics. Naturally, fermented sauerkraut either learned to make it yourself or it's found in the refrigerated sections of the supermarkets and also raw or unpasteurized on it. And that sauerkraut is full of probiotics and enzymes and they'll help for good health. And because 2007, it was the Human Microbiome Project where they looked at. The gut health of individuals and mapped it all out when we. Since that time, I really discovered how important what we eat is and how it impacts our gut health. And if your gut is working properly, then you have good energy. The food you eat, you're extracting all the nutrients out of it. When you ferment sauerkraut, you're increasing the vitamin C content. You're making the nutrients more bio available and your brain is functioning better. All sorts of things move along. You can lose weight easier because the foods are eating fermented foods. They have a savory mommy taste to them and are more satisfying. So you tend to eat less. But it's just by adding the fermented foods and a variety of fermented foods. Sauerkraut is a great one to start with because it is easy to make and it can be added to any meal. But by adding this variety fermented feature, adding in probiotics and those help with the gut lining helps give you a good gut health. Awesome. Now I know you have this great acronym. You can talk about its bugs B G S S S. So that kind of talks about really kind of gives you an acronym to remember why you should eat your sauerkraut, right? Right. [00:05:39][113.5]
[00:05:40] And why does she need it? And also how to go about making it. There's a lot of instructions out there on the Internet and people can get overwhelmed and confused. So I try to try to bring it down to a simple process that people can remember and that they feel empowered when they go in the kitchen and start making their sauerkraut so we can go over the bugs. It's a B for bacteria. You for under the brine. G, for great ingredients. S, for scale. The other. S, for salt in the MLS. As for simply enjoy. So the B for bacteria. I did not realize when I made my first batch of sauerkraut that I was actually setting up a home for bacteria to ferment the sauerkraut. There was really just making like a batch of cookies just like any other recipe in the kitchen. So really it wasn't until, say, the last five to 10 years I really understood that it's all or vegetables come specially. Those growing close to the ground like cabbage are covered with bacteria, just like we are covered with bacteria over hands or mouth or nose everywhere. The bacteria. We need the bacteria to live. And as those bacteria that are on the vegetables that are fermenting food for us. And so we have to remember the bacteria and look for foods that are. Well, you know, grown locally, if possible, because the fresher the meat is and the more nutrients that went into the growing process, the better ingredients you'll have for fermentation. So that first is the bacteria. And then our second letter, U four is under the brine fermentation of sauerkraut. Unlike computer, sauerkraut is a anaerobic process, meaning without air. So we slice of our cabbage ever ingredients, we find a way to put it underneath the brine so that the bacteria under that brine can then transform and go to work, building lactic acid, killing off the bad bacteria and making sauerkraut. [00:07:46][126.0]
[00:07:47] So we come up with different ways to press our sliced sauerkraut into the jar or crock and keep it underneath the brine. So that's the big four back. I so I don't I don't totally understand that. You're gonna have to explain that one to me. I didn't follow that. Well, that's good because I'm used to talking to people who've done some for the patients. So we're going to take cabbage and get a slice of that. Nice. And finally, we're going to mix it with some other schools for flagrant and salt. Salt is going to pull the liquid out of the cells in the cabbage. And it means you're mixing it in the bowl. You'll suddenly see a puddle of brine form. That's the liquid that is extracted from the cabbage cells cells, NACHA. And then traditionally we fermented in croc's. That's a great way to ferment. But today, a lot of people who are hesitant and just learning to ferment, they feel comfortable just fermenting in a mason jar. So when you say when you say croc's, what do you mean they still wear Krock that you may have seen your grandmother with your great grandmother with that's, you know, 5 or 10 gallons in size or even five liters. Traditionally, was it straight walls to it? And now they're making once that with a water moat around it. But it's a big crock. And what you're going to pack your sauerkraut into how you know, the great your great grandmother may have done back in her basement. Gotcha, like a pit, like a pickle crock. It would be something similar to that. Got it. OK. And then. All right. What's the G? So so anyway, you're packing that that sliced cabbage into your mason jar. [00:09:28][101.6]
[00:09:30] Mason canning jar. And then you're going to Pratt pack it down into the jar in the brine is going to rise up above the pack. Sauerkraut. That will be your brine. You want to keep it underneath that brine. OK. So then the G is great ingredients. And I think it's very important that with your fermenting is fresh local produce or, you know, produce that have not been left on the store shelves for months. The longer you leave something, it starts to rot. It wants to decay, and the sooner that we can capture it, the more bacteria that will be on it and the greater success we'll have. I get a lot of readers sending me e-mails wondering why they're sauerkraut, a turnout and some it's just that cabbage has been sitting around for too long and it has dried out and there's just not enough life to it to have that bacteria. So that's funny that you say that because I have a girl at my house that helps me with all my cooking. And so I just asked her two days ago to take our cabbage and slice it up. So if she came, let's say, Friday morning and decided, let's say it was like you sliced it four days ago with that cabbage, be OK to go ahead and four-man. Not if you'd left it for a slice like that because it started to dry out and it's it is starting to decay and you can try it. But I like to stack the deck in your favor. And the more little tips I can give you to be successful, the greater the chance. Are you going to ferment this mouthwatering sauerkraut, but you just fall in love with and want to add to your meals so that four day old sliced cabbage. [00:11:07][97.6]
[00:11:08] What people want to buy sliced cabbage from the storm? To me, that's a short cut. That's just going to be going to end up with luck. Your perfect sauerkraut. So saved up for your coleslaw. Go buy a new head of cabbage and slice that up and make that right away into your sauerkraut. Wow. OK. And then s s is for scale is the first s and that can kind of scares people away at times. But we're like bakers almost. We're setting up a certain amount of salt that goes into there. The micro biologists have looked at the fermentation, sauerkraut, and they've come up with a certain amount of salt that you need to add. If you add too much salt, you slow it down. Those bacteria can't go to work. They just it's too salty for them to work. And it just slows fermentation way down that you don't get that transformation from a to cabbage into a sour tang. If you don't add enough salt, then the mold and bacteria, the mold and yeast can grow in your sauerkraut religiously and then you want more ending up throwing out your batch of sauerkraut because of the mold that grew on top of it. So the percent of salt that the microbiologists have determined is like a 2 percent. So have people weigh their ingredients and then we add the correct amount of salt and then we have just the right amount for the bacteria. We want to work to create the lactic acid to preserve this hour. Gotcha. OK. And then what's the salt? You do need salt for fermentation. A lot of people are afraid of salt because it's been demonized out there. And we need the salt for the bacteria to work. [00:12:55][107.2]
[00:12:56] There are people that make sauerkraut without salt that it's to be too much about the we have to get the retconned bacteria and the bacteria like that, certain amount of solidity to it. So we add that 2 percent salt, which is about one tablespoon of salt for a quart jar of sauerkraut. Mm hmm. OK. And then the final asks as to simply enjoy one of the most popular posts on my Web site is Thirty Three Easy Ways to Enjoy Your Sauerkraut. And that tells me that people are really searching for ways to eat the sauerkraut. And it's very, very simple. You put your fork into the jar, you take out a little doll and you put it aside, whatever mail, you're eating it. You don't have to make something with the sauerkraut. That's the beauty of fermentation. If you're making these foods that you then stash in refrigerator and it comes time to make dinner and all you have to do is open up the refrigerator, pull out the jar and you're ready to add that to your meal. Then when you add it to your mail, it just makes all the flavors pop. Meal tastes so much better. And I discovered that was because mommy, which is Japanese for savory. We have a lot of mommy rich foods, parmesan cheese, tomato, miso, tempe and fermented foods. And it's the amount of its amino acid glutamate. And that wakens the senses. And then when they look the mommy level of food, that's how much I need to make is in that food. And kimchi is very, very high in mommy along with sauerkraut. So when you add these. Fermented foods to your meals like you're instantly a five star Michelin chef because the flavors just pop, everything tastes so much better. [00:14:51][114.6]
[00:14:52] So I'd like people to keep it simple. You can slather it on a hot dog. You can mix it into a salad. You can use it just about any way. And the flavors live so well with anything. But you don't have to make things complicated and have a new recipe to use with that sour cream. So walk us through. Just real quick. Like, how long does it take to make a batch of sauerkraut, like from start to finish? And then give us one of the easiest recipes where you say like this does not take that long. You can start with this. And I saw on your Web site that you had some different pictures of beats like I love beets. I think beets are so good for you. I I used and never really like beets because the only thing I've ever known was like can beets, which I think are disgusting. But I think I think beets that are fermented are delicious. And I think beets that are fresh roasted are delicious as well. So what like give us an easy way. How how do I make this problem? Would take you about 20 minutes even maybe maybe your first time a little bit longer, but you are going to first slice your cabbage. And I also have you do flavoring ingredients. So you talked about beets. So one of the recipes on my Web site is called Passion Pink Sauerkraut, and that has beets in it. My signature style is I really never made it plain that it's sauerkraut until just recently as part of my. Production recipes for my book, but the passion, pink sauerkraut, the flavoring ingredients you're going to slice up are great b add some garlic and some caraway seeds. [00:16:38][105.7]
[00:16:39] Those go into the bowl first and then we're going to slice up the cabbage. We're going to add enough cabbage to that bowl until we hit eight hundred grams or just under two pounds. Then we have all our ingredients in there. We're going to sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over the top and take your hands and just mix, mix, mix with a thoroughly dispersed, completely throughout all that. Finally sliced cabbage and great beets. And you'll soon start to see if you tip your bowl to the side, especially for working fresh, fresh vegetables that still have a lot of moisture in them. We'll see a nice, beautiful puddle of brine. And with this passion, pink sauerkraut with your favorite foods in it, there'll be a nice red color. Can you grab your court jar and grab handfuls of your grated beets and sliced cabbage and pack them into the jar, pushing them down with the fist until the jars just below the neck of the jar. And then we add some type of way to help people put in a little jar that fits inside. If you don't have something like that, we can take a jar, fill it with water, put a cap on that will be enough weight to hold below the brine and then screw on the lid for not using the water jar and let it sit on the counter for anywhere up to four weeks. But within the first day, you'll start seeing Locke's little bubbles rising to the top. We'll see the brine up there and the cultural change will fade. So that's kind of the basic process. So four weeks from the day that you make it, you really shouldn't eat it for four weeks. I I let people kind of decide that on their own. [00:18:13][94.8]
[00:18:14] There is research out there that the bacteria levels reached their prime around 21 days. All the different strains of bacteria that are part of that fermentation process that people need to eat. I really want them to just enjoy what they're eating. And those that get passed about the five day mark where by that time the P.H. just dropped enough, that's below 4.0 to say that it's safe to eat. And technically, plenty of lactic acid has been produced to preserve it, to give it that sour tang. So I hope people start to taste it around five to seven days, see if they like the flavor, if they wanted to be more sour, if they wanted to ferment longer, have them put the lid back on and let it continue to ferment. But the idea is to love what you're eating. And the first couple of times or may be quite a bit of fear, angst or hesitation. So I try to work with that and not have a really strict guideline. But now that I've been fermenting wine, tend to sit on the counter for three to four weeks and people to get more experience to be wants, they feel comfortable with the process. Well, this is amazing. You have motivated me to make my sauerkraut. I'm going to go ahead and try it. I'll have my assistant kind of help me with it. With all the chapping Zao, tell listeners where they can find you and where they can follow you. So my Web site is make sauerkraut dot com. And I'm on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all under. And Instagram anyway. Under Pinterest, all under. Make sauerkraut on the Web site. I have a great teaching recipe. It's the main recipe on the Web site and takes you through. [00:19:54][100.1]
[00:19:55] It's like a mini online course to teach through all the steps one by one with lots of tips, etc.. So there's. Great coverage of your first batch of sauerkraut. That's where I some people it's my teaching recipe. So that would be the first thing I'd look for on the Web site is the teaching recipe. And then I put everything into a book and that's available if people liked something to hold in their hands. But there's a sample that book on the Web site that people can download and get with the passion. Think recipes in that little sample get an idea of kind of the basic recipes and basic steps. Awesome. Well, if you have a question that you want answered kind of questions at Shantelle Railway dot com. We'll see you next time by. [00:19:55][0.0]