Once upon a time, people ate fermented vegetables every day. Lacto-bacilli, the bacteria in the fermented veggies, enhanced their digestibility, increased vitamin levels and helped the people maintain good intestinal health. Then came the dark ages, where witches doused us in chemicals, fed us dead foods and made us forget about good bacteria. We lived in fear of our cancers and constipation. But fermented foods are making a comeback, and lacto-bacilli are ready to help us recover from the dark days. Will you let them?
THE SIMPLE VERSION:
2 heads cabbage, shredded
4 tbsp coarse sea salt
1/2 cup whey (can strain from 16 oz yogurt)
Spices to taste (try cumin, coriander seed, dill, pepper, chili flakes, turmeric, and curry powder.) 1 cup fresh seasoning vegetables, finely chopped (try scallions, parsley, cilantro, chives, garlic)
TO MAKE WHEY:
Pour yogurt into cheesecloth, tie in a knot and suspend over a large bowl. Allow whey to drip out overnight. Store in fridge, will keep for months. Remaining yogurt will be thick and can be used like cream cheese or Greek yogurt. [Note: You can make probiotic kraut without whey, but this requires equipment sterilization and is more labor intensive.)
In non-reactive container (glass, clay, enamel, plastic or stainless steel) combine shredded cabbage and chopped vegetables with sea salt. Cover with towel and let sit for one hour to draw out juices from veggies, stirring halfway through. Add spices and whey, mix. Pack into glass jar(s), using a mallet or spoon to press vegetables down as tightly as possible. Liquid from cabbages should rise to the top. Cover jar(s), store at room temperature for one week, then place in fridge. Can be enjoyed immediately or allowed to continue fermenting in the fridge, according to taste and preference.