Feeling sad? Eat your kraut!

Serotonin and gut health

I have a sign on my fridge:


“KRAUT” is my generic term for any naturally fermented produce. You can get sauerkraut, kimchee and pickles in most stores; just make sure you get them from the cooler and that they are labeled “unpasteurized” and/or “naturally fermented”, so you know they contain LIVE pro-biotic cultures.

I make my own kefir, kombucha and “krauts” at home. At the moment, my fridge is host to a bottle of pineapple/coconut (milk) kefir (a sweet, delicious shake with a bit of fizz to it), a bowl of kefir cheese, bottles of kombucha that I brewed with dark cherry juice (oh my, is it good!), fruit kimchee (sweet AND hot), fermented prunes (WONDERFUL in yogurt), fermented red cabbage and beets (with the greens), and my current TOP FAVORITE … fermented apples and carrots (with the greens).

We ran out of the fermented salsa I had made that was SO DELICIOUS, it is next on my To Do list. The recipe is @ http://wellnessmama.com/2643/fermented-salsa/. It’s good fresh too, but after some fermenting, it’s FANTASTIC. Plus, fermenting makes it rich in those very important pro-biotics, so yes, please FERMENT it!

The recipe calls for whey, which is the milky/yellowish liquid that drips out of the cheese bag when you make kefir cheese. The point of the whey is to give the salsa a jump start on the fermenting process, but fresh, organic produce has enough wild pro-biotics to get a ferment going without it. However, if you’re like me and make kefir cheese regularly, it’s nice to have a use for the whey, plus the faster the ferment starts making bubbles, the sooner the head space in the jar fills with carbon dioxide, which prevents mold growth.

Fermenting is done at room temperature. Without the carbon dioxide and salt, mold will grow on the surface of the food. BUT, if you have enough salt (minimum 1 tsp per quart of produce) AND you get the bubbles going, you don’t need to worry about mold growth.

I also use an airlock lid, but you don’t have to buy one to give fermenting a try.  Sterilize a glass canning jar, put the produce in to the fill line, then cap it with plastic wrap and a canning jar ring. (The ring is the circle part that screws to the jar; don’t use the round metal part, which is called the lid.)

The plastic wrap will allow you to see the surface of the food so you can ease your mind that it’s not growing any mold AND it will also allow the carbon dioxide that forms in the fermenting process to fill up the head space and bulge the plastic wrap up, so you can be reassured that fermenting really is happening.  (You may also see bubbles in the produce, but not always.)  If the plastic gets bulgy enough you think it might burst, unscrew the ring a bit and let the excess gas out.

Another way to ensure mold doesn’t grow is to add a 1-2 mm layer of olive oil on top of your produce before you seal the jar. The oil will stay on top and help block out the oxygen that the mold needs and after your produce is fermented, you can just mix it into the food and eat it.

Feel free to email me if you want to try this and have questions.


Filed under Health & Nutrition

13 responses to “Feeling sad? Eat your kraut!

  1. I wish I’d known this a long time ago… I didn’t think diet had anything to do with serotonin. This is huge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • chrissythehyphenated

      HUGE is right!!! I started doing ferments last Thanksgiving and it has revolutionized my life. I’m happier, more content, have more energy, sleep better, feel satisfied when I eat (as opposed to just filling up my stomach and still feeling craving hunger), don’t want junk food, and have lost weight without ever being hungry or depriving myself of anything I felt like eating. Plus, I often FEEL like eating nothing for lunch but a nice bowl of kraut!

      And I have been needing so much less of the various things I take/use to control my myriad symptoms that it has showed up as a BIG savings in my checkbook … like maybe $150 a month? It’s a little hard to say, cuz I buy the herbs, vitamins and essential oils; D buys the food and OTC meds. But I was usually spending about $250 a month on herbs/vitamins, then got so far ahead of what I needed that in April, I only spent $40. I did have to make a bigger order for May, because I used up most of the Feb/March stuff in April, but that’s still amazing, considering I’ve been doing this herb/vitamin thing as my main protocol for 25 years. Month after month, year after year, I took mega doses because I needed them, then all of a sudden, I haven’t run out of what I usually run out of? And the ONLY change I’ve made is ferments? HUGE.


      • I’m convinced. But I still think Kim-che is kinda gross. 😉


        • chrissythehyphenated

          I don’t like the kimchee that has fish sauce in it at all. And I don’t like the Korean kimchees cuz they cut the cabbage pieces so huge. I like my cabbage SHREDDED. Also, pre-steamed, because it contains goitrogenic compounds that are bad for my hinky thyroid.

          But kimchee is super good for the tummy, so I made my own kimchee sauce (it’d blister paint straight up … it’s SO HOT), and use a glop of it in some of my fermented veg/fruit blends. I prefer the hot kimchee sauce in fruit blends, like apple, pear, grape, plum/prune, pineapple, instead of in a cabbage mix.

          I love cabbage-based krauts though, but before I ferment cabbage, I chop and steam it to destroy the goitrogens, then use the liquid in the steamer for the brine. That also destroys the wild pro-biotics, so I have to add some fresh organic produce and/or a culture of some kind (kefir whey, Caldwell’s).

          I also chop and steam beet roots before fermenting, but that’s just cuz they take AGES to soften if they’re fermented raw and I don’t like the wait and don’t care for the strong tartness you get after fermenting for more than a week. It’s a personal preference thing. Some fermenters won’t touch a food until it’s been bubbling for 3 weeks or even some MONTHS. Me … I’m digging in after 4-7 days.

          Last week, I sliced up a bunch of organic apples and put them in a jar with Knudsen’s carrot juice and stuck it in the fridge (not fermented). D and I tried that this week mixed in the bowl with the current batch of fermented beets. Man is that good! The blend of flavors and textures … mmmm.


          • You really got me thinking about this. I’m a big fan of kraut (cabbage, in general) and the pickled beets, but the chemistry has always eluded me. It’s fun to hear you discussing this mad scientist stuff!

            I know the fermented foods seem kind of gross on the surface to most people, but really, one of the most glorious foods on the planet is cheese. And that’s a rather disgusting result of cow product and mold and aging, and it frequently involves trimming the furry mold slime off the outside of the cheese during the process. That’s really disgusting. And the making of wine & beer – other great gifts from God – are similar.

            I like your mad skillz, Chrissy!

            Liked by 1 person

            • chrissythehyphenated

              I am getting a huge kick out of becoming a cheese-maker and brewmeister! Kombucha is brewed. I carefully check my jugs and bottles daily, tasting to see if they’re done yet and “psshting” the caps to relieve pressure.


              • I just bottled my first batch of homemade kombucha. It turned out really well, but I think next time I’m going to try mixing it with fruit juice — probably pomegranate.

                I’m definitely going to try fermenting salsa. I make salsa all the time, because it’s my favorite thing to snack on, but I’ve never fermented it. I need to do something with all the whey that’s accumulating in my refrigerator.

                My husband and I have been having kefir shakes every day ever since I got my kefir grains (which are the offspring of Chrissy’s kefir grains — those things reproduce really fast!). A couple of cups of milk kefir, a little bit of honey, a cup or so of frozen fruit (strawberries and peaches are my favorites, but blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries are good too), blended until smooth… yum!

                I just signed up for CSA with a nearby organic farm, so starting in June we’ll be getting a big box of locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables every week. Then I’ll have lots of goodies to practice fermenting on. 😉

                Liked by 1 person

                • chrissythehyphenated

                  Congratulations!! I was giddy with success when I made my first batch of kombucha. 🙂

                  Dearest went to the organic veg place today! I’ve got 4 airlocks doing nothing whatsoever. I’m going to have so much fun today, chopping and blending! I’m planning on fermenting bean sprouts, tomato salsa, pineapple chutney, and beets and carrots with their greens. I’m making myself hungry!

                  Liked by 1 person

                • chrissythehyphenated

                  TIP when psshting your bottles: If you get a strong psssht, rinse the cap and wipe off the glass screw part. I was having problems with caps getting glued on so tightly that I couldn’t open the bottles. I finally figured out it was not (a) pressure build up, (b) hubby screwing the caps down too tightly, but (c) the liquid in the pssht drying inside the screw part.* Since I started rinsing/wiping, I haven’t had any more glued caps.

                  *Is there a word for that part of a bottle??

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. barnslayer

    You guys go ahead. I’m ready now.


    • Hahahahahah! (breathe) HAHAHAH! Good one, Barn. That reminds me of 2 nights ago when my dog and my wife both wish they had one of these because I finished off a pot of spicy beef and beans. It was a loooooong night. LOL.


    • Okay, (a) hilarious; and (b) I’m envious of savants who have the Internet chops to insert pix. I’m a Luddite. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t make its way onto the server as some sorta pidgin Yiddish.


      • No doubt! Actually, it just got easier a little while ago. WordPress now allows your pics to be displayed automagically if you just insert a working internet link to the *.jpg file into your comment on a separate line. The only hard part is that you have to have a link to the pic. If you found it on the internet, that’s easy (right click and select “Copy link.”). If it’s your personal pic, you first need to get it onto a server somewhere, like photobucket.com or your own website. Then it will have a link.

        Liked by 1 person