Best sauerkraut ever
Here’s the old German sauerkraut recipe the Singing Gardener first printed in his January 12, 2009 Grainews column:
For every five pounds of shredded cabbage placed in a large container, add 3-1/2 tablespoons of pickling salt. Toss well with clean hands to distribute salt throughout. Do not waver from the ratio of salt to cabbage as indicated. Not enough salt and it goes mushy. Too much salt and cabbage won’t ferment. The exact amount is critical.
Transfer salted cabbage into a crock along with a few cloves of garlic if desired. Compress it down with a potato masher or wooden tamper. Continue adding more prepared layers of shredded cabbage and pickling salt. When crock is nearly full, weight the contents down with a heavy stone placed on a plate resting on top. Cover the crock with a blanket and set it in a warm area such as near the furnace. During the fermentation process, sauerkraut juice gathers at the top as the cabbage compacts inside the crock. Some white foam will also appear and this can be skimmed off. It will take up to 12 days or longer, but let your taste buds decide when it’s right for you.
At the appropriate time, transfer sauerkraut into zip-lock plastic bags and freeze. It’s such a clean, health-promoting smell, very yummy tasting and one of the best natural health foods going, especially for the gut and digestive system. You can make sauerkraut soup, sauerkraut juice and sauerkraut perogies, too.
Harvesting cabbages and other veggies continues at a fast pace as I write this in September. Mayfair Farms at Portage la Prairie is one of about 40 growers in Manitoba whose vegetables — from cabbage and carrots to parsnips and potatoes — are delivered to Peak of the Market. This wholesale distributor out of Winnipeg is one of our nation’s premier fresh produce suppliers.
Cabbage is one of my favourite vegetables. More than 2,000 years ago, a Roman statesman pronounced that cabbage juice and sauerkraut surpass all vegetables as a digestive aid and stomach healer. The people listened and many got on the cabbage bandwagon.
Canadians have eagerly adopted cabbage and given it honorary status. It’s used in countless ways from coleslaw and cabbage soup to holopchi and sauerkraut.
If you ever have a flare-up from gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers, heartburn or acid reflux, consider juicing a head of fresh cabbage. Try drinking four ounces of pleasant-tasting cabbage juice up to five times daily for two or three days. In addition, drink copious amounts of water. Fresh cabbage has a reputation, supported by multiple studies, as a therapeutic agent for digestive ailments. Cabbage can also help boost your immune system.
SAUERKRAUT FOR HEARTBURN RELIEF
Juice from sauerkraut is found to contain beneficial bacteria that nurture and support the gastrointestinal tract. Got heartburn? If you’ve been reaching for antacids in the past, try eating a forkful or two of sauerkraut daily for heartburn relief.
Fermented cabbage is usually made with minimal coarse salt, but you need to be diligent if you’re on a low-sodium diet. You can reduce the amount of salt further by rinsing sauerkraut first in clear water. Personally, I cover my homemade sauerkraut with water and let it steep in the fridge for a day or two then enjoy both the fermented cabbage and diluted liquid.
Several readers have requested my sauerkraut recipe, which I put in my column from January 12 of this year. See the box on this page for a reprint of that recipe.
TRY OTHER VEGGIE JUICES
When you think about helping to lower high blood pressure, celery probably isn’t the first veggie that comes to mind. This crunchy vegetable deserves more attention than it gets. There’s lots of potassium and magnesium within its juicy fibres and even a bonus compound that relaxes smooth muscles in arterial walls. If you’re prone to high blood pressure, celery may well do your body a favour. If in doubt, check with your health care provider.
Celery juice is a touch bitter on its own. Flavour can be improved with fresh carrot juice or some orange juice stirred in. Save the pulp in the juice extractor basket for composting.
A CLEMATIS NAMED “THE PRESIDENT”
You know it’s got to be a good one with such a distinctive title, but no limousine ride or bodyguard is necessary. Do expect some sheer beauty, diverse form and unsurpassed performance from this fine home garden variety. It’s hardy on the Prairies, but give The President some trellis support and protection from wind with at least a half-day’s sunshine.
Most clematis growers are familiar with Jackmanii. This well-known purple variety is vigorous, free flowering and blooms on current year’s new growth. It can be cut back right to ground level in late fall or early spring.
The President however is a Group 2 variety and it flowers on both old and new wood. As a result, treatment is slightly different. At least 15 cm (six inches) or more of the woody stems should remain standing out of the ground when pruning. This ensures the largest flowers and most prolific bloom each June and July. The long and the short of it is this: Don’t cut Group 2 clematis such as The President right back to ground level.
If you notice any dieback in the spring, you can then cut off the old dead or damaged material. Trim the remaining stems leaving at least one pair of strong buds on each. I only suggest cutting a Group 2 clematis back to ground level if the plant is overgrown and needs rejuvenating. There are many clematis in Group 2. Some will produce additional flowers later the same summer on new growth, but they tend to be fewer and smaller.
ROSE, ROSE, I LOVE YOU
…with an aching heart. Remember that song? Fall planting of roses on the Prairies isn’t recommended, but there are certain things to be aware, when putting your roses to bed for the winter.
Deadheading tender roses such as hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas once their blooms are past prime is a summer-long task. It tells them to produce more flowers. By late September and into October, deadheading should be stopped. Let the spent blooms produce rosehips (seed berries). This tells rose bushes to slow down growth and prepare for dormancy.
Prairie-hardy shrub roses also produce rosehips. Keep fall pruning to a minimum, unless canes are broken, overgrown or diseased. Cutting them back too hard in autumn before the first killing frost stimulates new growth and winter dieback — something you don’t want. Heavy pruning of shrub roses in autumn can also result in smaller blooms next season. Canes that are straggly or very tall can be tied together with old nylon stockings so they won’t flap around in winter winds. Early spring is the time to do additional thinning, shaping and cutting away dead, damaged and weak canes to encourage quick new growth.
WET SOCK CURE
To clear out nasal congestion, wear wet socks to bed. Believe it or not, this soggy strategy can help ease a fever and clear congestion by drawing blood to the feet, which dramatically increases circulation. (Blood stagnates in the areas of greatest congestion.)
Best method: First warm and wash your feet in hot water. Then soak a thin pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out, and slip them on just before going to bed. Put a pair of dry wool socks over the wet ones. The wet socks should be warm and dry in the morning, and you should feel markedly better.
FIGHT THE FLU WITH GARLIC TEA
Garlic tea is so easy to prepare. Finely chop or mince one large clove of garlic. Fine chopping is essential to activate the allicin in garlic, which is so effective for fighting cold and flu viruses. Next, place chopped garlic in a cup and add boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes. Finally, cool the tea before drinking. It tastes best when slightly warm, but don’t drink it cold. Add a few drops of hospital brandy if desired. Drink one cupful each evening before bedtime during the fall and winter months or when cold and flu symptoms are prevalent.
Ted Meseyton is the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I love moonlore and here’s some lyrical rhyme with a good measure of accuracy. When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass; but when grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night. My e-mail address is [email protected]