It seems to have happened. That dreaded day when you realise that you have become old.
And how do I know it has happened I hear you cry?
Well, I have started to collect jars.
OK, “started”, sounds like it has only just happened but in reality it has been happening for quite a few months.
The long-suffering Mr M just goes along with it now; initially there were attempts to sneak some into the recycling bin but now resignation has settled in, like an old man with a pipe in front of a toasty hot fire. Rather than fight it he just washes them out and places them on the shelves already cluttered and full with other empty jars jostling for space in our limited kitchen.
In my defense I do have plans for these jars. Initially I admit to just hoarding them with no particular notion as to what they would be used for.
All changed when I started on the SCD diet a few months ago, and latterly switched to the GAPS diet.
I call it a premonition. A part of my subconscious telling me that I would need hundreds (OK I’m exaggerating again) of jars in order to deal with my now rather peculiar life!
Now they are filled with meat and fish stocks, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, homemade flavour extracts (like my vanilla extract), homemade pesto, homemade yoghurt, nuts soaking in brine…and, as of tonight…some rhubarb and ginger gin (far more exciting…I can almost see your ears prick up at that if you are still reading about my dull life!).
If I’m honest the shelf that was once crammed with jars very rarely has empty jars on it now.
Instead they stand around the kitchen, hiding in cupboards, squeezed into a tight space in the freezer or threatening to fall out on my head when I open the fridge!
In homage to my love of jars I thought I would share a few jar recipes with you over the coming weeks and months. To start with, one that you may well turn your nose up at…but given how simple it is you really should just bear with me and read some reasons why I think it is going to be the new ‘salted caramel’…the new ‘sugar-free’…the new ‘quinoa’. In other words, the new ‘food fad’ for 2015/16…
I introduce sauerkraut.
OK, nothing ground breaking about that! The Germans have been eating it for donkeys years. So have the sandals and sprouted beans crowd (sorry, I don’t mean any offence if you are a hippy at heart – I love you!). But why is it so good? Here are just a few reasons:
1) It helps you digest food by stimulating production of stomach acid. (If you suffer from heartburn you may think you have too much stomach acid. The reverse could be true since when you have low stomach acid the valve that closes the end of the esophagus does not close properly). People with stomach ulcers, heartburn (reflux), IBS, crohn’s, diarrhea and constipation often have low stomach acid.
2) It provides you with a range of probiotic (good) bacteria including Lactobacilli that are really important in healthy digestion. With widespread antibiotic usage over the years, repopulating your gut with healthy good bacteria is a good idea.
3) Enzymes in vegetables flourish when fermented and sauerkraut contains important minerals. In addition, the process of fermentation releases nutrients from the food making it more bio-available for the body…for example sauerkraut contains 20 times more available vitamin C than fresh cabbage.
There are many more reported benefits so why not give it a go? Don’t be tempted to buy it because most brands have been pasteurized and processed thereby killing all the beneficial bacteria and eradicating the benefits.
If you want to find out more about fermented vegetables then check out this post by Cultures for Health, and one from The Kitchn about sauerkraut…and watch this space for more ‘jar recipes’ coming soon!
Are you obsessed with anything in your kitchen? If you are then let me know so that I don’t feel quite so alone in being so sad!
Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- 1 preferably organic green or red cabbage - they will have more nutrients in them to begin with
- 2 medium-sized organic carrots - washed
- 1 - 2 tbsp sea salt - I use Cornish sea salt or other high quality salt
- Finely slice the cabbage and grate the carrot
- Add them to a large bowl or saucepan
- Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze the mixture together with your hands...I imagine I am massaging the mixture!
- Continue until liquid is released from the mixture and it becomes nice and soft
- If there isn't much liquid released add some filter or spring water to the mixture
- Pack into a large kilner jar or equivalent and push down very firmly to eradicate any air
- Leave about an inch spare at the top of the jar since the mixture will expand as it ferments
- Make sure the mixture is covered with the liquid then close the lid and place in a dark place for 5-7 days
- Every few days open the lid to release the gases
- After that time place the jar in the fridge and consume before or during meals to aid digestion and re-populate your gut with some friendly bacteria!