The Gut-Healing Condiment You Need For All Your Summer Food (And How To Make It)

Photo by Tamara Muth-King

When mbg’s fifth annual revitalize weekend in the Sonoran Desert wrapped up, the wellness world’s forward thinkers—who were gathered to discuss solutions for today’s biggest challenges—celebrated in true summer fashion: by firing up the grill. The pool party menu served up BBQ favorites like veggies, chips and guac, and of course Applegate Organics® The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog™ and Applegate Organics® Turkey Burgers—both are made with humanely raised meat and are Non-GMO Project Verified.

Photo: Tamara Muth-King

Quality condiments can elevate your barbecue experience to the next level. When it comes to topping those burgers and dogs (both herbivore-friendly and omnivore varieties), go for top-notch flavor and superfood ingredients that add extra health benefits.

Want to maintain a healthy gut this summer? Sauerkraut is the best condiment for supporting gut health. That’s because fermented foods like sauerkraut are filled with probiotics that are great for your microbiome—plus it adds a sophisticated pickled note to summer dishes from hot dogs to burgers to salads.

Aside from keeping digestion regular (which is helpful when you’re traveling and out of your routine), probiotics in fermented foods can help maintain strong immune system function to ward off summer colds and foster clear gut-brain communication and stable mental function. That’s key when it comes to listening to those "gut feelings" you get about what you see and the people you meet during your summer adventures. Studies have even suggested that eating more fermented foods may reduce social anxiety.

How to shop for quality sauerkraut.

Not all sauerkrauts are created equal. Many of the shelf-stable products you’ll find, for example, have been pasteurized, which kills those beneficial bugs. Shop the refrigerated section instead and choose one that comes in a glass bottle or vented pouch. Store it in the fridge and be careful not to leave it out too long in the heat.

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DIY with this gut-healing sauerkraut recipe.

Or, just skip the run to the store entirely—making your own sauerkraut at home is easier than you think. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade sauerkraut.

Gut-Healing Sauerkraut

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cabbage, shredded
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Kosher or pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 onion, quartered

Method

  1. Mix the cabbage and salt in a large bowl and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Massage the cabbage to release the liquid. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. If you’re using caraway seeds, add them now.
  4. Pack the cabbage into a glass container, such as a mason jar. Pour any liquid released from the cabbage over the top. Place the quartered onion on top of the cabbage.
  5. Place a cloth (such as cheesecloth) over the container and secure with a rubber band or twine or place a lid on top of the jar.
  6. Place on a plate and keep in a cool place. Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every few hours. As the cabbage releases more liquid, it will rise up. If, however, the liquid does not rise above the cabbage within that first 24 hours, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water and pour over the cabbage until it is covered.
  7. Cover the container again. Allow the cabbage to ferment 3 to 10 days (or longer), pressing down on the cabbage if it starts to float above the liquid.
  8. If you see bubbles or scum, that is normal—just skim it off the top. While mold is also possible, skim it off the top and don’t eat any moldy pieces. The submerged cabbage should be fine.
  9. After 3 days, you can start tasting the cabbage. When it reaches your desired taste, cover it and place it in the refrigerator. It should last about one month.

Variations: Use other types of cabbage such as red or nappa. You can also play around with the spices. Have fun getting creative!

Want to learn more about fermenting your own foods at home to support gut health? Check out our beginner’s guide to fermenting here.

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