Garlic Infused Honey and Basic Fermented Sauerkraut
1. Garlic Infused Honey
These two recipes are very easy to make and in our house, essentials in order to stay healthy throughout the seasons. First, we'll start with garlic infused honey. Garlic and honey have many health benefits on their own, but as a combination, their antibacterial properties are even greater. Garlic infused honey has been shown to treat colds and coughs, boost the immune system and ease asthmatic symptoms. Daily doses have been shown to reduce heart disease, high blood pressure, and bacterial infections1.
We highly recommend using RAW honey. Typical commercial honey found at the grocery store is refined and far from its original state. First it's heated, then watered down. This process also destroys enzymes and makes the resulting honey void of any vitamins or minerals. If you don’t have the nutrients, you aren’t getting any benefit from eating the honey, so raw is the way to go for this recipe.
1 cup raw honey
1-2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
Remove peels from the garlic cloves, and place in a 250ml jar. Pour honey over the garlic (if necessary melt it a little for ease of pouring) and stir.
Seal jar with a lid and leave for at least 5 days to infuse.
Leave out on the counter and take 1 tablespoon daily. You can stir into tea, use in cooking, or just take honey as is. Garlic cloves are deliciously edible but we usually wait until the honey is done to eat them in order to insure the best infusion.
2. Basic Fermented Sauerkraut
Your body is full of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi. They are collectively known as the microbiome. Through the overuse of medication, processed foods, and disinfectants we, as a population have drastically reduced our beneficial gut flora (microbiome) and while some bacteria in our microbiome are associated with disease, others are actually extremely important for your immune system, heart, weight and many other aspects of health. Altogether, these beneficial microbes in your stomach may weigh as much as 2–5 pounds. Together, they function as an extra organ in your body and play a huge role in your health2.
One of the best ways to increase your beneficial stomach bacteria is to eat fermented foods. The fermented foods you find at the grocery store are often processed for shelf life and therefore, not as beneficial. Lucky for us, fermenting can be very easy to do at home and very good for your immune system. Below is a basic recipe for fermented sauerkraut. Most vegetables can be fermented so don't feel as though you have to stick with what we use. The most important thing in fermenting is making sure your vegetable weight to salt ratio is correct. An incorrect ratio can lead to food spoilage so double check your measurements!
1 medium head of cabbage (approximately 1.25 kg or 3 lbs.), shredded
4 - 5 medium carrots (approximately 250g or 1/2 lb.), grated
1.5 TB non-iodized salt
1 TB of caraway seeds (Optional, traditional flavouring)
Core and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons and place in a large, non-reactive bowl. Reserve the cores and some clean, outer leaves. Peel and shred the carrots and add to the cabbage. Add the salt and stir to coat the cabbage and shredded carrots.
With clean hands, massage the salt into the shredded vegetables. After four or five minutes, the vegetable will begin to soften as the liquid is drawn out of them. Add the caraway seeds, if using, and mix into the cabbage.
Pack into clean mason-type jars, occasionally pushing the mixture down to remove as much air as possible. Leave 3-4 cm of headspace in the jars. Lay 2 - 3 of the outer cabbage leaves across the top of the sliced cabbage mixture and secure them in place with the cores of the cabbage. Cover the top of the jar with several layers of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of twine. You can also use the lid of the jar by loosely turning it onto the jar. The fermentation process will create carbon dioxide which can build up pressure inside the jar. This can be vented a couple of times a day by slightly opening the lid.
Over the next 24 hours, press the cabbage cores and outer leaves down to make sure that the vegetables are fully submerged by liquid. If there is not enough liquid to submerge the them after 24 hours, add a little filtered of distilled water and salt in the amount of 1 tsp salt per cup of water. Do not use tap water as it will kill the necessary bacteria and will halt the fermentation process.
Ferment the sauerkraut for 3 - 10 days, away from direct sunlight in a cool location, ideally between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Check the sauerkraut daily, venting the pressure and submerging the sauerkraut if necessary. Skim off any scum that may appear on the surface. If any mould appears on the surface, simply skim it off and re-submerge the vegetables; the sauerkraut underneath is fine to eat. The warmer the temperature, the faster the sauerkraut will ferment so start sampling it after 3 days. When it tastes good to you, move it to the refrigerator. Sauerkraut will store for several months and will continue to ferment and develop, albeit much more slowly in the fridge.