Fermented Beetroot Kraut

So after one month of eating healthily, adding lots of raw dark green leaves to every meal, and not a drop of alcohol I feel fabulous, really clear and productive. At the turn of the year I promised a kind of post festive excess, liver repair entry – and suddenly we are the other side of Imbolc already! I am pleased to see the light staying incrementally longer each day and a few very hardy plants bursting forth with new life. It reminds me spring is not so far away.

My original plan had been to talk about dandelion, burdock and milk thistle a trio of real powerful allies for your liver. But in light of my latest spurt of productivity I wanted to share with you my recipe for Beetroot Kraut – not only good for cleansing and supporting the liver but also supportive of the entire digestive system due to all the probiotics (friendly bacteria) it contains.

Even if you have never made a ferment before I think you will become a convert once you discover how simple it can be!

To be honest I only came up with this idea as I still had a large number of beetroot lingering at my allotment and rather than let them go woody and unpleasant to eat I hatched this plan to turn them into a real liver cleansing digestive tonic.

beetroot and red cabbage

So here goes. Firstly you will need fresh raw beetroot, make sure you trim the tops and bottoms and really scrub hard or peel before you weight them. Making a kraut with beetroot alone is hard going. I know that because the week before I made what follows I made a simple beetroot only kraut. To be fair it fermented perfectly and tastes great but to ferment correctly you will need to massage the ingredients until lots of juice runs from them, enough to cover all the ingredients; and with beetroot alone that was a big job. So for my second attempt I combined with red cabbage as I know from making traditional sauerkraut that cabbage is much much easier to get the required quantity of liquids to flow from.

So the quantities I used were 300g beetroot, 600g red cabbage (remembering to discard the thick bit at the base and outer leaves before weighing), 4 teaspoons sea salt. That is it. If you want to make less just halve all the quantities.

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I used a julienne slicer to get my beetroot to the right size and I sliced the cabbage thinly as if I was making coleslaw. The next stage can get a bit messy – with clean hands massage the mixture of salt, cabbage and beetroot in a large mixing bowl. Actually although my hands went bright red at the time the stain didn’t last – so don’t panic! Also don’t worry if it looks like a ridiculous quantity to begin with, the volume will have reduced by half by the time you are ready to bottle it.

massaging beetroot kraut

Just keep going handful after handful squeeze and massage. After a few minutes you will notice the mixture becoming quite wet, a few more moments and when you squeeze liquid will drip from your hands back into the bowl. This is perfect. Just keep going until there is enough liquid to cover the cabbage beet mix.

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Then spoon the mix into sterilised jars, I prefer to use wide necked Kilner style jars. Push it down in the jar to eliminate any air gaps. Finish up by pouring the liquid over the mix. The liquid should fully cover the kraut. If the kraut is not properly covered the top layer will probably not ferment properly and could potentially spoil the whole batch. You may have heard in many fermenting recipes that you need to have a weight pushing the kraut down under the liquid – I have never found this necessary – as long as you have enough liquid you won’t need one.

The next stage is just to leave it somewhere away from direct sunlight but in a position where you will see it and not forget about it, then just leave it to do its thing. You can start tasting at about 5 days. If it still tastes salty then the process is not yet complete. The longer you leave it to ferment the softer it will get and the flavour will develop. Keep checking every couple of days until you like the texture and taste. That is it!! Told you it was going to be simple.

Things to look out for are a discoloured top layer, or mould. If you see mould I would discard the lot as just scraping off the bad bits wont get rid of all the mould spores, it is just not worth risking it. If the top layer is discoloured just remove that and discard (compost is fine – it is still raw after all), underneath it should be fine.

That is medicine in a jar. No need for supplements, tinctures, powders that you forget to take after day two! Just keep eating the kraut regularly. It goes with most meals and I think it is properly yummy. The benefits you will receive will be vast and your only investment is half an hour massaging and a pair of slightly pink hands 🙂

If you are interested in taking things a bit further; having a cleanse and embarking on a Spring Renewal Journey I have prepared a four week e-course that you can join at any point and work through in your own time. You can find full details and a chance to sign up here…

 

The Importance of Wild Foods

stinging nettle headsdandelion leafA lot of wild foods, especially wild greens are starting to poke their heads up, conveniently at a time when most of last years stored havest has been consumed and this years crops are either yet to be sown or yet to produce. Of course there are still delights in the ground such as my yummy home grown parsnips but early spring is when nature starts to provide us with a few cleansing bitter herbs. These bitter herbs, or wild greens can help improve digestive function, basically kick start a sluggish system overloaded by all the fatty and carb rich comfort foods of the winter season.

There are so many plants I want to profile, so I think I will make this into a mini series over the next few weeks rather than overwhelm with a mega blog right now. perhaps I will just start with a quick mention of an old favourite – dandelion.

It is a good time of year to harvest dandelion leaves as they are less bitter in winter when still small. I recommend gathering half a dozen small leaves and adding them to any salad you eat, or chopping finely and sprinkling over cooked food. The leaves are high in vitamins and minerals and have an antibacterial, anti-inflammtory, antiviral, blood cleansing, and powerfully diuretic effect! Eating them also prompts the body to produce more bile which supports the digestion; easing heartburn, flatulence, dyspepsia and constipation. I always also recommend bringing dandelion into the diet when suffering from skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne as they can be caused by a congested digestive system. There is so much more to dandelion, but I just wanted to give you a taster (or perhaps for you to pop outside and get yourself one 😉 ). Never forget that plants are to be respected as powerful medicines so please do not use dandelion in medicinal quantities if your bile ducts are blocked, or if you are pregnant, or breast feeding.

If you are interested in finding out more about wild food, wild medicine, the cross over; and you live in the UK you may be interested in my three part workshop “Herbal Wisdom through the Sacred Medicine Path“, which begins in early May. If you live further afield my book “The Medicine Garden” is full of useful information on wild medicine…

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