Skip to main content

Fantastic Foods: Home Fermentation in Action

Jul 25, 2014 05:14PM ● By Cyndi Dodick

Everyone is looking for ways to improve digestion, so it is helpful to realize that we are not what we eat, we are what we assimilate. There are two major players that assist our digestive power, and both are found in fermented foods: probiotics and enzymes. We can purchase expensive probiotic and enzyme supplements or make our own fermented foods and get a much more potent and effective result.

Eating just small amounts sauerkraut or other fermented veggies every day can drastically change our digestion and elimination for the better. Because both the probiotics and the enzymes are destroyed when heated, the key is to consume fermented foods that have not been pasteurized. Making them at home assures that all the beneficial enzymes and probiotics remain intact. Wild fermentation is a process that depends on the lactobacillus found naturally in foods—controlled fermentation occurs when we add beneficial bacteria at the beginning of the fermentation process, thereby increasing the strength and effectiveness of the batch. It’s easy, cost-effective and much better than any supplement on the market.

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Yield varies with density of cabbage.Expect 2 to 3 cups on average.


Half-gallon mason jar; a smaller glass jelly jar to act as a weight (The smaller jar needs to fit inside the wide-mouth jar); mandolin, sharp knife or food processor; blender; cutting board; and funnel (optional).


1-2 heads cabbage (green or red)
1-2 tsp high-quality sea salt
¼ tsp or 1-2 caps of powdered probiotics


Clean everything: When fermenting, it’s best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure veggies are clean, the mason and jelly jars are washed and rinsed of all soap residue and hands are clean.

Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage, setting aside a few for later use. Cut the cabbage into quarters. Discarding the core, slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons or process into a fine chop with a food processor.

Transfer cabbage into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and work it in by massaging with both hands. The cabbage will become watery and limp in 5 to 10 minutes, more like coleslaw in texture.

Place about one-half cup of the processed cabbage into a blender with just enough water to blend. Create a slurry and mix in one capsule‑or one-quarter tsp‑of probiotic just enough to blend. Mix this slurry into the sliced cabbage.

Grab handfuls of the processed cabbage and pack into the canning jar. A canning funnel will make the job easier. Occasionally tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist to reduce the amount of air in the jar and make the fermentation go quicker. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.

Place the reserved outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage to create a barrier. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.

Once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, slip the smaller jar into the mouth of the jar and set it directly on the cabbage to weigh it down. You can create weight in the smaller jar by filling it with water, clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down and submerged beneath its liquid.

Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar and prevents dust or insects from getting in.

Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the smaller jar. No need to remove the cloth, this pressing just coaxes out more liquid. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact, and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.

Ferment the cabbage for three to 10 days. As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature, ideally 65F to 75F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.

Start tasting it after three days; when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There’s no rule for when the sauerkraut is done, go by how it tastes.

While it’s fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.

This sauerkraut is a fermented product, so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If desired, transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.

Cyndi Dodick, HHP, is the owner of Pure Health Center and Pure Nosh in Highland Park. She is a Certified Raw Food Chef and Instructor and holds food preparation classes monthly. For more information, call 847-433-7744 or visit


Mung Bean Sprouts Salad RecipeMung Bean Salad

Mung beans are rich in protein and fiber; a great source of vitamin C, calcium and potassium (good for vision, bones and teeth); ideal for low-carb and low-sugar diets (good for people with diabetes); great for detox and weight-loss diets; help with digestion and control the levels of cholesterol in the body.

Raw Mung Bean Sprouts Salad

Vegan, gluten-free and nut-free

Prepare the Sprouts:

Soak the Mung beans in water for 24 hours. Once they’ve been soaked, put the beans in a cheesecloth or cotton cloth, tie up the cloth tightly and keep it for two days at room temperature to let the beans sprout.


Season the bean sprouts with:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil per small bowl of bean sprouts
4 stems fresh green curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric
½ fresh lime, squeezed
½ tsp cumin and coriander powder (buy it already mixed)
Sea salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish


Mix well together and garnish with cilantro.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Kirti Sheth, of Arya Bhavan, Chicago’s premier vegan, raw, gluten-free and organic Indian restaurant. For more information, visit

Join Our Email List
Sign Up Now
Our Current Issue