Ferment Cabbage at Home
“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” –Numbers 11:5
This was spoken by the Israelites while wandering in the wilderness away from the comforts of home. Although they no longer had to endure the abuse of slave labor in Egypt, they also no longer had the food and dwellings they were accustomed to. God had rescued them and provided food, water and protection; but this nomadic lifestyle was a startling change.
We like to give the Israelites a hard time about their shallowness. We say things like, “After all the miracles they saw God perform, right in front of their eyes, I can’t believe they still whined and questioned God’s providence.” Yes, they did and it was sinful. And you and I are guilty of the same thing.
Because of my health issues, I have been forced to significantly change my diet from the usual comforts of the standard American diet. Since last fall, I have been on the Specific Carb Diet (SCD), recommended to help control the symptoms of my autoimmune disease. I’m continuously learning about health, and I now know I was not following the diet correctly. I’m currently experiencing a four month flare of my disease, even while on meds, and decided to start the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol diet (AIP). There are hundreds of people who suffer from several different ailments who seem to be controlling their symptoms very well with a paleo lifestyle and the AIP food list during a flare.
Long story short, I haven’t had sugar, bread, flour, popcorn (taboo on SCD) in what seems like forever. But now on AIP I also have to temporarily (hopefully) eliminate chocolate, dairy, eggs, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cayenne), spices, etc. Ever since someone mentioned chocolate cake last week, I have been craving it nonstop. I have a lot of pain when I eat, and I can’t eat what I want. The payoff so far is in a future hope of healing. I haven’t given in, but on my bad days I’m tempted to comfort myself with carbs and granulated sugar. I have been working myself up into a full blown pout (super attractive).
But then I came across this section of scripture about the Israelites. Yikes. They lived on manna in the wilderness, which they had to collect in the morning and grind into a flour to make small cakes. They whined about their single food option, and then God provided quail to eat. Then they indulged to the point where they made themselves sick on it, and some people even died. I have to admit I would have been one of them. I could really hurt myself on some delicious chocolate cake right now. Not a piece, like the whole cake. So there they were eating manna, quail, and water and I’m pouting about sugar, eggs, and flour. Normally I wouldn’t have been tempted by that stuff, so what is this about?
6 weeks into this, I’m reaching a point where my willpower is running out, and now I have to actually lean on God to give me strength. Strength in making good choices, strength when the pain comes, strength for the exhaustion I’m fighting at work, and strength through the disappointment of not being out in my yard. I’m being sanctified (God’s process of making me more like Jesus).
“ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Part of me, bigger than I’d like to admit, is still grieving for my old life. I’m fantasizing of the years I could eat cakes, bread & butter, pasta with white sauce, donuts, and French fries. But I can’t forget about the slavery. I weighed 25 lbs. heavier than I do now. I was indulging and setting myself up for severe symptoms of disease, clearly addicted to carbs and caffeine. I’m whining for a life that is no longer an option for me. But why? I have food to hold back the hunger. I have some fruit options available when I need something sweet. So why am I yearning for a life that is not good for me? Because I am rebellious and ungrateful. Stab.
Many of you can’t relate to my health issues, but you can relate to the desire you have for things that harm you. I know you struggle because the Bible says you do.
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”- James 1:14-15
I want to be well. I don’t want to desire things that will harm me. Instead of begging God for chocolate cake, I need to thank Him for His provision of my vital needs and beyond that for rescuing me from a lifestyle I was a slave to.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
I’m not quite there yet, but I need to alter my prayer and find my gratitude.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” -Matthew 5:6
Whatever your chocolate cake may be (more money, clothing, sex, status, food, sleep; a different spouse, life, or job; that thing that breeds discontentment in your heart!), lean into Christ. And what that means is:
- Pray. Spend time in His presence confessing your sin and thanking Him for your salvation and His providence.
- Read your Bible. You think you know what God wants from you, but you really don’t unless you study. Many of us will be shocked to see how twisted our thinking is, especially in regards to making decisions based on our own happiness.
- Spend time meditating on the slavery God has saved you from, the boundaries He set for you, and why you so badly want to cross them. Ask God to show you what you are missing.
- Enjoy and find gratitude in what God has given you. I can’t eat chocolate cake, but I can eat melon. And the watermelon lately has been awesome. Instead of fighting your job, or lack of sleep, or snarky husband- seriously, just give into it. Stop fighting it and find the good stuff in what you have.
And bit by bit, as God sanctifies us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” instead of chocolate cake, we will be satisfied.
This recipe is from the wise and wonderful Phoenix Helix. Eileen has also written about the wonderful healing properties of fermented cabbage in her No-Fail No-Pound Sauerkraut post..
“Digestive Enzymes: [Sauerkraut is] one of the strongest natural digestive enzymes in existence. Advertisements for Tums antacids will have you believe that the majority of people suffer from an overabundance of stomach acid, when actually the reverse is true. A deficiency in stomach acid makes food take longer to digest (and often incompletely digest), causing the symptoms that make Tums a bestseller. In addition, there’s a domino effect in our digestive system, where one digestive process leads to the next. When we eat, the natural production of stomach acid stimulates the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and gallbladder into the small intestine. Together, they break down our food into absorbable nutrients. When stomach acid production is faulty, the other enzymes get released in smaller quantities as well, adding to our digestive woes. A little bit of sauerkraut before a meal stimulates the production of stomach acid (and therefore our other enzymes), preparing our body for the meal to come. “
“Probiotics: If you’ve ever bought a probiotic supplement, you’ve seen the word lactobacilli. These bacteria exist on the surface of all living things (including cabbage) and during fermentation, they break down the starch and sugar in the cabbage and produce lactic acid, which is a natural preservative. That is how people thousands of years ago were able to preserve food without the use of refrigeration. At the same time, the lactobacilli multiply during fermentation, making sauerkraut a potent ally for our health. In our digestive tract, they: (1) protect us against viruses, pathogens and harmful bacteria; (2) help maintain a healthy internal pH; (3) neutralize toxins; (4) chelate heavy metals; (5) suppress cancer formation; (6) convert food into nutrition for the cells of our intestinal walls; and (7) help to prevent or heal leaky gut. They’re good friends to have. (Source: Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-Mcbride).”
“Vitamins: Another piece of fermentation magic is that it increases both the amount and bioavailability of nutrients. Sauerkraut is exceptionally high in Vitamins C, B and K, has a substantial amount of calcium and magnesium, and contains both antioxidant and detoxifying compounds. It is definitely a superfood.”
Need I say more? No. No I don’t. But here are some photos of my process. For more details on this recipe, please check out Phoenix Helix.
Step 1) Take wilted leaves off the cabbage (I used a purple, but you can use any color).
Step 2) Split and remove core.
Step 3) Cut into cubes and place into food processor (you can also shred by knife).
Step 4) Pulse the food processor for even shredding.
Step 5) Scoop shredded cabbage into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 Tbl of sea salt.
Step 6) Stir for even coating.
Step 7) Scoop cabbage into one large or smaller Fido jars.
Step 8) Cover and let rest for 30 min. Salt will bring out the natural water and the cabbage will sink and create more room.
Step 9) Cover and let rest for another 30 min and it will sink more.
Step 10) Leave 2 inches of empty space at the top. Cabbage should be covered in it’s own juice, if not add filtered water just to cover still leaving the 2 inches.
Step 11) Seal up jar, place on a plate in case juice escapes during fermentation process, and store in a dark space between 60-70 degrees.
This is my first try, so I’ll check in 3-4 weeks and see what happened! Here’s hoping for probiotic goodness!