Category Archives: RAW FOOD EDUCATION

GNOWFGLINS – interesting resource for food prep lessons

GNOWFGLINS is a homesteading blog/website/newsletter with mountains of information. Wardee Harmon sends out newsletters with all sorts of useful free  information, and, too, she offers on-line e-classes, each of which contains numerous useful items.  What’s interesting about her courses is that they are offered on a “membership” basis, i.e., you pay by the month (so, if you are like me, you could probably inhale at least 5 courses in the space of a month).  These courses are not exclusively even vegetarian, but quite a few offer useful items for raw vegans (I have my eye on the first course, Fundamentals, which talks about sprouting beans, making water kefir, sprouting whole grains, and making natural pickled foods, among other items which are not of interest to me). Fundamentals II covers equipment for a traditional foods kitchen, natural sweeteners, superfoods, homemade salad dressings and sauces, and kid-friendly snacks, among other things I probably won’t be interested in). LactoFermentation covers all aspects of fermentation (I’ve read Wardee’s book on fermentation, but I still think this might reveal some things to me. I know she uses a whey-based fermenting culture, but I know I can get around that with lactobacillus caps. This lesson promises how to ferment fruit, fermented condiments, kefir, kombucha, and kvass, fermented honey, and more)  The dehydrating course is of interest to me because I am self-taught, and I think I might be able to learn some extra things

That’s 4 courses that I think I can learn something from, which, if I can focus and finish those courses in a month’s time, will make the month’s $17.95 membership very cost-effective. 

You might consider checking out Wardee’s site, and these course offerings – I haven’t seen such a good over-all pricing for the information I am after, and, anyway, I’d like to see how she does this, so I can tell you more at another time.



POST #999
Next on my to-read list:
Idealism Meets Greed – How the raw food movement ruined my life
By Dr. Jim Carey, Ph.D.

In 2010, Jim Carey, a quiet mover in the raw vegan world, was sued, along with Creative Health Institute, by the Ann Wigmore Foundation (AWF), for using the deceased Dr. Ann Wigmore’s name, which AWF claims to have exclusive permission to use, and for which they claim to have a registered trademark.

Unfortunately, Jim lost in the suit (and, as far as I can see, AWF didn’t win – How many of you have ever heard of them?).  It seems that AWF took their winnings, which included Jim’s very popular raw foods lifestyle program, and ran everything into the ground in New Mexico.

As part of the legal settlement, Jim was banned, by a no-compete clause, from publishing or speaking on raw food topics for 3 years. As a result, he had to turn down dozens of job offers, as well as requests for help from friends.

Ahh! At last, the three-year gag order has expired! Jim has now written an expose on the raw food world and its gurus, as only someone in his position can do. He has worked with the people raw foodists come into contact with often (on websites, in emails, or in trainings), and, with his unique insight, having been turned on by an organization which he helped develop, and then left, in order to pursue his own way of bringing the raw food lifestyle to a broader awareness, he has a lot to say.

As I had the opportunity to exchange ideas often with Jim during his raw food education career (I was privileged to take his distance training, which, with copious printed material and a stack of DVDs, was probably the most thorough distance – or even “in person” – education on raw food lifestyle that has ever been issued), I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say in his expose (when I chatted with him back in the day, we’d occasionally talk about this or that “raw guru”.. mostly, he’d just listen to my take, but occasionally he’d let drop that he didn’t think my attitude was off-base).

I’ve missed that camaraderie over the past 3 years, but I didn’t know what his legal arrangement had stipulated he could or could not say even to close buddies, so, when I have had the chance, I’ve just chatted with him about his new endeavors (The man does not stop! Can’t do this? Go excel at something else!).

Will Jim come back to us? I can only hope.., but, at least, he has decided to reveal his experience in and take on the world of raw food gurus, to be released on March 1, 2014. I will be first in line to grab his book. It should be a moment to remember.

For more information about this new book, go to Jim’s website:


HOW TO AVOID GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS  If you are shopping on a budget, then you may consider including non-organic items in your shopping cart.  The more information you have, the better judgement calls  you can make.

top ten gmo mythsTHE TOP 10 GMO MYTHS from

HISTORY OF THE RAW FOOD DIET: a “fad” that’s been around longer than cooking

POST #993

 Despite what you have been told by certain “authorities”, the raw vegan diet is no fad.  It has been going on since time immemorial, and has been written about and taught (just in America) for almost 200 years.

Before fire, all food was raw. Yes, it’s true; the cavemen followed, for want of a better term, a Paleolithic diet. 

The first real food fad was probably “fired food,” that burned in fire; i.e., once humans figured out how to control fire, and found out that fire changed the taste of food, and/or made some of it easier to chew, people started working out cooked food recipes and sharing them with friends, who might have been wary at first of this new food fad.  Once people found out that cooked food could be held a bit longer without spoilage than raw food could, the new fashion of putting food into, or above, or under a fire took off like, well, wildfire.

 At some point, people also learned how to intentionally grow vegetables, rather than just looking for wild-growing vegetables.

 Somewhere along the line, people discovered that, if they covered foodstuffs with salt, they could preserve them.

 People just started getting more and more clever about what to do with the food they could get their hands on, and started developing their own recipes, often with secret ingredients which they refused to share with those who admired their recipes (This is one tradition which has lasted into modern times).

Refrigeration was a great boon to mankind.  Our forefathers could rarely lay their hands on fresh meat or fresh raw vegetables simply because such things went bad very quickly.  Initially, most people hunted fowl, deer, squirrels, rabbits,  and other game for fresh meat.  Once farm animals were domesticated,  farmers might raise an extra cow or two for meat, but, after they had slaughtered a cow, they had to work fast to use that meat before it putrified.  Hence the early prohibitions, in religious texts, against eating the flesh of certain beasts – the meat from those animals was simply too difficult to preserve for any amount of time, and the propagators of those religions saw an advantage in preserving the lives of believers.

 Most people ate a primarily vegetarian diet simply because it was easier to get their hands on fresh or preserved (pickled/fermented/cultured) vegetables, fruit, and grains than on fresh or reliably preserved meat.

Many believe that, in what is now Israel, the Essene community, a Hebrew sect, observed a vegetarian diet.  This diet has been deduced from information in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are said to date to over 2000 years ago (This idea was popularized by Edmund Bordeaux Szekely, in his cult-favorite book, “The Essene Gospels of Peace”).

It has been said that, in the 4th Century BC, Pythagoras requested that his followers eschew meat, as he believed that following a diet of raw vegetables and fruit was the best way to maintain a healthy body and develop and maintain mental acuity.

It is also said Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, recommended a live vegan diet for healing purposes.  

Fast forward to America in the 19th Century. 

In the 1820s, Sylvester Graham , the very same fellow who developed graham bread, the precursor of the modern graham cracker, as a health food,  firmly advocated a high raw vegan diet.  Under his tutelage, “grahamites” opened boarding houses where those who wished to follow Graham’s  nutritional recommendations could live among others of like mind, and be served meals which followed Graham’s nutritional dictates. Graham was an early proponent of concepts which were later incorporated into the idea of food-combining, or Natural Hygiene.

 In the early 1900s, in California, Arnold Ehret, a German immigrant to the U.S. began espousing his Mucusless Diet System, recommending a transition from cooked foods to a raw fruitarian diet.

The first American raw vegan restaurant was opened in Los Angeles, California, in 1917.  Its owners, John and Vera Richter, named it “The Eutropheon”, after the Greek word for “good nutrition”.  The Richters held weekly lectures on raw veganism, and Vera Richter wrote “Mrs. Richter’s Cook-Less Book (possibly the first raw vegan recipe book in America, published in 1925).  Among the Richters’ followers were the Hollywood actress, Greta Garbo, and, also, Paul Bragg, who went on to become a natural health advocate, and provider of natural raw vegan products. (The restaurant remained popular into the 1940s).

Herbert Shelton, an early 20th Century chiropractor and naturopath became interested in the 19th Century works of Sylvester Graham.  His first book, An Introduction to Natural Hygiene, published in the 1920s, revived interest in Sylvester Graham’s earlier work.  Shelton became known as the father of the modern natural hygiene movement.

 In 1945,  Kristine Nolfi, a Danish physician, after curing herself of cancer by observing a raw vegan diet,  opened Humlegaarden, a sanatorium for the treatment of cancer through raw food diet.

 In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, John Martin Reinecke, a California horticulturist, lectured on the benefits of a 100% raw food diet, and published “Adventures in Raw Food”, a monthly magazine column.

In the 1960s, A.T. Hovanessian published his Raw Eating (it has been alleged that Stephen Arlin, David Wolfe, and Fouad Dini,  in their book Nature’s First Law broadly plagiarized material from this book. Hovanessian also claims that Reinecke plagiarized his work in a 1965 article for Live Life magazine.)

 Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian immigrant to America, whose name has become synonymous with the “modern” raw vegan movement, experimented with natural healing ideas in the 1950s to rid herself of various health concerns.  In 1956, she opened a small sanatorium on her farm. Initially, Wigmore espoused a vegetarian diet, but she eventually graduated to the raw vegan diet she is best known for. She was also a proponent of proper food combining, aka Natural Hygiene. In 1961, she teamed with another Lithuanian immigrant, Viktoras Kulvinskas, to open Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston.  After Brian Clement acquired the rights to the name Hippocrates Health Institute in the 1980s, Wigmore continued her clinic under the name Ann Wigmore Foundation.

In 1967, George and Doris Fathman published Live Foods, based on their exposure to Arnold Ehret’s Natural Hygiene ideas, as well as J.M. Reinecke’s teachings.

In 1969, John Tobe published the No-Cook Book.

In 1970, TC Fry became interested in Natural Hygiene, developed a series of lessons, and began lecturing on Natural Hygiene.

 In 1975, Viktoras Kulvinskas published Survival into the 21st Century, which helped popularize Ann Wigmore’s ideas, and introduced to a large market the concepts of food combining and raw foods.

Brian Clement became involved with the Hippocrates Health Institute in the 1970s.  In the late 1970s, he worked at Humlegaarden in Denmark. He returned to the Hippocrates Health Institute, where he became the director in 1980. After Clement acquired the rights to the name Hippocrates Health Institute, he moved his operation to Florida.

In 1985, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s book, Fit for Life was released by a major publisher, bringing the ideas of Natural Hygiene and raw food to a larger audience than ever before.

The raw food movement has been growing ever since.  With the Internet’s ease of communication, the idea has spread world-wide.  The availability of more modern appliances has encouraged folks to become very creative, indeed, with raw vegan recipes. 

Of course, with such widespread information sharing, it is just as easy to find folks who have become disenchanted with the raw vegan diet. Among those who have made big names for themselves in raw vegan marketing, a number do seem to be renouncing, and even denouncing, raw food, or a 100% raw diet, possibly as a way to move their marketing in some other direction.  A few years back, I heard Brenda Cobb announce that a summit of raw food leaders had met and decided that  100% raw was no longer  a logical goal, and to only recommend 50-75% raw.  I was a bit surprised, since there has never been any requirement anywhere for anyone to be 100% raw.  Still, to hear such a pronouncement, and, lately, to hear such “raw food names” as Kevin Gianni and Frederic Patenaude boldly announce that “raw food is dead”, and that the “raw food fad” is over and done with seems a bit strange to me.

 I went raw in 1974, and I don’t see any reason to stop now.



Is the raw food diet dead?  This is a concept that several people who have, up to now, styled themselves as “raw food gurus” are espousing.  Frederic Patenaude, one of the biggest names out there, raw food-wise, has announced that the raw vegan diet is a fad that has passed.  Brenda Cobb announced, in a workshop I attended a few years ago that, at a “summit” of raw food “authorities”, it had been decided that it was not necessary to go all raw. Kevin Gianni, another self-styled public “raw food guru” has announced that “raw food is dead”.

In my experience, a raw vegan diet is a personal issue.  You can be 100% raw vegan, or you can be 90%, or 50%  or working on getting 25 % raw food into your diet.

If you want to be a vegetarian or vegan, you can still include raw food into your diet, to make it healthier.  If you are a meat-eater, and don’t plan to stop, you can still include more raw vegetables in your diet to enable your body to absorb more nutrients from the vegetables you eat (how hard is it to include a salad?)

I’ve been raw vegan or mostly raw vegan for over 30 years.  As far as I know, when I started, it was not a fashion.  I started just because I was on the broke side, and, as a graduate student, I didn’t have much time to prepare food, and I found that I could make what I called a “progressive salad”, i.e., chopped cabbage, onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, kelp powder, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar, and eat of it as I wished, then put the leftovers in the refrigerator, and add to them the next day – these salads went on for about 4 days, and then I added hot water and made soup to finish it all up.

In the 70s, I found a book by the Fathmans called Live Foods. I took that home and learned a couple of other things I could do with raw foods.  I still didn’t think much about it. It was just food.  I discovered Viktoras Kulvinskas’s book, Living in the 21rst Century, and, from there, found Ann Wigmore’s writings.  In those days, this was a catch-as-catch-can process – there was no Internet, and all you could find was whatever popped up in Yes Bookstore in Georgetown, in Washington, DC.

I found out about “modern raw food recipes” in 1999.  Wow! More stuff to make to eat!  I was delighted, and bought my first food processor, then a Champion juicer, then a high speed blender (I had always wanted a VitaMix from the time I saw one in a state fair when I was about 10). I used made all sorts of inventive recipes, but, you know what?  More often, I still made the food that I had always made.  That was my comfort food. 

Fast forward to now: I have a dehydrator now, as well as a Cuisinart food processor, the same 1975 vintage Champion juicer, and a Nutri-Bullet (the VitaMix actually died after 10 years of faithful service, right on time, when the warranty I had expired).  From time to time, I will make crackers or chips or bread in the dehydrator. I also dehydrate vegetables I don’t like that come in my CSA box, and I make green powder of them, to use in soups, or as seasoning.  I dehydrate leftovers that I know I am not going to eat anytime soon, so I can rehydrate them later.  The three things in my kitchen that get a lot of use are the Champion juicer, the food processor, and my good old Chinese stainless steel cleaver, which has been with me forever.

I’m still raw.  A few years ago, I started collecting old raw vegan recipe books. I now have the oldest one anyone remembers, from the 1920s, as well as several others, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s.

As far as I am concerned, raw food is not dead, and it is not a fad.

Okay, there has been the raw food “phenomenon” which started up in the late 1990s, and which may well be burning out.

There used to be some raw food groups here in New York City, and I used to hang out with them, at potlucks.  I never asked  anyone “how raw are you?” because I just didn’t care.  It has never been a contest with me. It has just been what I eat.  I did think it was kind of fun when folks dished on local “raw food gurus”, reporting sightings of said “personalities” exiting Thai restaurants, or what-not.  Still, I have never succumbed to the allure of any raw food guru, so nothing ever changed for me, regardless of what “So-and-So” had been seen doing.  I have always told everyone who asks that I am 95% raw 100% of the time. That is because I cannot promise that you will not see me eat something that is not raw.  I haven’t done it in recent history, but I am not going to say that I don’t do it, because I might, if I get a notion.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that, if you want to go raw, do it. Just because the fad may have passed does not mean that a raw food diet is not good. 

You may become more interested in nutrition and investigate the different raw food schools. 

The most recent raw food school has been the low fat diet. (As a nutritionist, I see that this approach is what has caused a lot of people to ditch the raw food diet, because they get too many cravings.  Fat is necessary in the human diet. There are good fats and there are bad fats. If you are eating a raw vegan diet, there are simply no bad fats to be had.  Raw nuts and seeds provide protein. Avocados provide all sorts of good things.  Fats are necessary for the building of healthy cell walls (Since the AMA started advocating a low-fat diet, we have seen a rise in here-to-fore unknown diseases, sensitivities, and allergies.  In the past few years, the AMA has begun  serious back-peddling about fat in the diet.

Some say that salt should be avoided. (I am a low-salt person by nature – I never put salt on my food when I lived at home, and, when I moved away, at first, I didn’t have salt in my apartment (until people who came over for dinner kept asking for it – then I got a shaker-ful of salt)  Still, I would not say that you should not use salt in your food (sea salt, or natural salt, provides a lot of health benefits).   Although I rarely put salt in my food, I do recognize that it is an important ingredient for health (I get most of my salt from fermented vegetables, actually).

Some will say that you should not use strong herbs and spices.  I’m sorry. Strong herbs and spices, such as garlic, cumin, and red pepper are proven, in herbology, to be good for you.  If you don’t like them, don’t use them, but don’t decide that they are not food for you just because some self-styled “guru” has dissed them.   If you desire them, then it is probably that they bring some needed element into your diet.  As a nutritionist, an herbologist, a Bach (and other) Flower Therapy practitioner, and an herbalist, I have found that natural herbs and spices that you are attracted to tend to be things that bring certain properties into your system. (if you come to eat at my house, your food will not have much salt in it, but it will be brilliant with garlic, cumin, cilantro, and onion).  The folks who guide you to avoid such edibles are most likely folks who do not tolerate them well (For example: I cannot stand mango. I understand that this is a systemic issue within my own personal body.  I do not tell other people not to eat mango, because this mango sensitivity is my own.  Mango is known to have great nutritional value. The fact that I cannot eat it does not mean that you should not).   Another example would be that, in my family, only my grandfather liked hot sauce.  I like hot sauce (to the point that I have learned to make my own hot sauce, so I can control the ingredients). Many people do not like hot sauce.  There is something in hot sauce that attracts certain individuals. That is a nutritional or constitutional thing.  Just because you do not like hot sauce does not mean that it is a bad thing.

Now, if you are interested in incorporating raw food in your diet, that is a good thing.  In real life, there is no rule that says that you have to become 100% raw tomorrow..

Nutrition-wise, it is a good idea to incorporate as much raw food into your diet as you can. So… can you incorporate 25% raw food into your diet? (that would be a salad with dinner). Can you incorporate 50% rawfood into your diet (hey! Coleslaw and a salad with dinner). Can you incorporate 75% raw food in your diet? (Now you would be seriously into the idea.)  


POST #945
It’s that time of year again – the NYC Yoga & Raw Food Expo is coming around.  This time it has moved to the Pennsylvania Hotel (7th Ave btw 32nd & 33rd Sts) I’m imagining that it is in the “ballroom” (that is where the New Age Expos used to be held, before they moved to the New Yorker)

The Raw Food Expo usually has some interesting things to see, hear, and do.  I remember that, at my first one, I was hungry, so I found a booth that was selling raw crackers. I had never seen raw crackers before! I was so in awe! They had an Excalibur dehydrator there, and I made up my mind to get one for myself ASAP … and that is how I came to have my Excalibur 11 years ago.

My Healthy Homesteader Training Experience

POST #918
It’s time I mention that I am involved in an on-line Tera Warner course called Healthy Homesteader.   Many of the things covered in this training are things I already know about (dehydrating, storage, sprouting, soaking nuts and seeds) or don’t intend to do (select meat, cook). Still, it is good to have to take the time to think about who I am and what I want to do in my kitchen (I have to keep a journal), and correspond with Kinderly, my course mentor (not sure what she calls herself exactly, but mentor seems to do the trick) about my homework (Yes, I have to do homework, too). Kinderly is a hoot!  No matter what I say, she comes right back at me with a serious dose of positivity and encouragement (I think she must be cracking up with every homework assignment I send to her- that, or else, she pities me mightily for trying to “homestead” in a New York City apartment with only 2 windows that get sunlight)

So far, we’ve covered cookware; knives and knife techniques; food storage; food combining; herbs and spices; soaking grains, nuts, and seeds; and setting up a drying station.

The part where I have gotten stuck is on the latest two lessons, which are about foraging.  Here in New York City, there are only the city parks for foraging, and I have been deathly afraid of those parks for the past 25 years (I’ve only ever gone to Central Park 4 times, and I have only been to Riverside Park once in all that time.)  I know that people go into our many parks all the time, but, for certain reasons, I am terrified of them.  So, with this lesson, I realized that I have to take some sort of action, regardless of the anxiety.  I’ve exchanged emails with Wildman Steve Brill , who runs foraging tours of the city parks, and am poised to possibly sign up for his next foraging tour into Central Park.  Oh, I am excited.  Mr. Brill is well-known in New York City (he must be, if even I have heard of him), and he was very welcoming and generous when I contacted him, so I feel as comfortable as I am going to about this upcoming new experience.

Then, on the Facebook communication page for my training, I found mention of this Foraging Prayer (from Holly Drake at :

My Foraging Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to behold wonderful things from Your world this day.  Psalms 119:18

Unlock just one more of Your secrets in hidden places for me.  Isaiah 45:3

Show me something that I can safely eat and prepared for my well-being and for those I love. Psalms 145:15-16

Teach me to be a wise woman who is in tune with your creation cycles, and the movement of Your Spirit.  Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

Fill me with awe of Your magnificence, Your creativity, and Your goodness, vrom the shy violets on the forest floor to the stars that You breathed into existence and call by name.  Isaiah 40:25-28

May I never worship the creation but rather the Creator and Sustainer of all.  Romans: 1:20-24

Enlighten my mind with timeless truths that Your creation patiently proclaims to any who will be still long enough to listen.  Colossians 1:17

Bring my senses back from slumber to be fully awakened to each smell, texture, taste, nuance of shape and color, and even the faintest stirrings of life.  Psalms 46:10

Restore to me my heritage from generations of my forebears, who walked Your earth knowledgeable of Your bounty, and who reveled intimeately in Your presence.  Psalms 145:5

May every forage into the ‘green’ draw my heart closer to Yours.  Psalms 105:3

GORILLA FOOD: great new recipe book – my new favorite!

POST #904
Was POST #901
I was very interested to receive this copy of Gorilla Food, by Aaron Ash, of the Vancouver restaurant by the same name.  Oh, this book is nice! Enticing new flavor ideas, fresh innovative recipes, pretty pictures – oh my! Get this book here

This is a recipe book – you asked for raw recipes and here they are. After a two page introduction, which tells the curious how the Gorilla Foods restaurant in Vancouver, BC, Canada came into being, and shows a picture pictures of a 1960s-throwback-looking space, it launches into a clarification of terms and descriptions of the appliances and tools needed to work the magic, as well as a shopping list, i.e., all of the ingredients which will be eventually called for in the recipes.

After that come the recipes. Now, if you like more or less “instant food” (not much more than a food processor involved), and don’t like to plan a day or two in advance, many of these recipes will not work for you as they are written (many require dehydration, or include dehydrated recipes detailed on other pages), but, often, the “raw” parts, i.e., the parts before you dehydrate, are good enough on their own – for example, although the Morning Curry Crepes call for the dehydrated Ginger Tomato Crepe,  recipe would be just as good sitting in a bowl for you to spoon up.  So it goes… I see this book as requiring a bit of creativity if you are to get the most from it – just about every page has something exciting, mouthwatering, or really curious.

That said, there are some truly innovative (as in: I haven’t seen this before) recipes for vegetable mixes, sauces, cheezes, condiments, crackers/breads/wraps/chips, and desserts. If you take the often unique vegetable mix ideas, and start adding different sauces, you get altogether different and exciting experiences. If you are willing to do the dehydrated breads/crackers/chips/wraps (which you can do in advance and freeze – you knew that, right?), you expand your options exponentially

When you get to the desserts in Gorilla Food, you will start to drool. Many of the desserts just involve combining the ingredients, and voila! Of course, the really fancy-looking ones in the pictures  the use of a dehydrator, but, often, the ingredients will taste good without the dehydrator, and just will be more like goo, or something you have to eat with a spoon.

There! I’ve just taken apart Gorilla Food and digested it into a recipe book for people who only have a knife, or, at best, a food processor. You can make almost all of these things (save the breads, the chips, the crackers) in a beginner raw food kitchen.

If you are a beginner, if you are an old hand, Gorilla Food will be worth your while.  So, do check out Gorilla Food. It is so very fanciful, and just this side of very basic raw food (which you don’t see much in recipe books anymore), with a kick!

You can get this book here




SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: why other people don’t like raw sauerkraut and how you can

POST #899
SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: Why Other People Don’t Like Sauerkraut, and How You Can

Swayze Foster recently posted a “low-sodium” sauerkraut-related video, in which she talked mostly about how she hates sauerkraut.

I’m a fermenter, and I do like sauerkraut, and I have been lucky that everyone who has tasted my sauerkraut has liked it (I do get lucky like that – people who say they are don’t like something that I am pushing  generally tend to like it once they have tasted it). 

Swayze says she put her sauerkraut in a jar covered by leaves, and topped  by cheesecloth to ferment for three days. That is, by me, the first mistake – if you are going to make “short-ferment” vegetables of any sort, you need to 1) press the vegetables down under the liquid, and/or 2)cover the recipient with a tight lid.

I’ve tried several ways to weight the vegetables, all of which involved putting a cabbage leaf on top and putting a weight on that, and then putting the lid on.  Each time, I have ended up with a slimy cabbage leaf, and an iffy batch of sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I make is low sodium (I use a maximum of 1 T sea salt to a large head of cabbage — 2 1-qt jars worth). The sea salt is already low sodium, and it helps to draw the liquid/juice from the cabbage.  I find that the kicker, or the trick, to making a successful, tasty raw sauerkraut is the addition of 1 – 2 capsules-worth (or 1 teaspoon) of probiotics to the mix  (you could mix it in by hand, but I worry that some might get stuck on my glove and not remain in the mix, or you could mix it into the water you add to top off the jar)  The salt works to ferment, but salt wants a while.  The probiotics go to work immediately, and practically ensure that your batch of sauerkraut will succeed (when I first started making sauerkraut, I was warned that my first batches might fail – the only failed batches I have ever had were the ones where I did not use the probiotics)

I usually let my sauerkraut batches go for 3-4 days before I open them.  With the tight cap on them, I need to open them over the sink, as the probiotics will have created a fizzy pressure, and the cabbage sometimes pops out of the top of the jar.  I like the sweetness of the 3-4 day ferment, but I have left it as long as 7 days with no ill results.  My batches rarely last more than 7 days in the refrigerator, as, when I have a batch of sauerkraut, it goes into almost everything I make up (wakame seaweed and vegetable salad, raw tuno, crackers – you name it!)  I often eat it on its own, as I love the flavor (I most frequently simply add jalapeno pepper slices, but often I add garlic, dill, cilantro, curry powder, or kimchi spices).

The way I figure it is, if you don’t like raw sauerkraut, most probably, you have gotten a bad batch, or you don’t like the flavorings.  A simple, plain raw sauerkraut made with just sea salt and probiotics will be tasty, sweet-ish,  to almost anyone, even children, and will be a good addition to just about anything you want to make up.

One last thing about sauerkraut, or any other fermented vegetable: If you don’t like to chew,  or if you don’t like crunchy, process your vegetables to a fine grate (not applesauce texture, but more like if you chopped for 20 mins) and be sure to include probiotics in your mix (many people tell me you can use sauerkraut juice from an older batch, but I never have that much juice left, and I don’t trust commercial batches.  For my first batches, I used a Zukay salad dressing for the probiotic, but, since Zukay salad dressings are not available in New York City as of this writing, and the company refuses to sell even crates of their product to individual buyers, I have never used that since).