Raw Sauerkraut Recipes & Vitamin B12
May 11, 2021
A tablespoon a day of raw sauerkraut is vital for our health.
Raw kraut will colonize your colon (no pun intended) with friendly bacteria who help to digest your food. If you suffer from any digestive problem — cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation — eat fresh home-made raw sauerkraut daily, and juice greens a few days a week — see my favorite quick Green Juice Recipe.
And quit dairy! The classic symptoms of lactose intolerance are bloating, cramps, flatulence and diarrhea. Lactose is the sugar in milk.
Rhio writes in her incredible recipe book, Hooked On Raw (2000) that raw sauerkraut:
"is wonderful and strengthening for the digestion, full of lactic acid (which regenerates the bowel flora), all kinds of enzymes, live lacto-bacillus bacteria, choline, acetylcholine, Vitamin C [my note: those last three build strong brains and memory], B-complex vitamins (including B12) and other good things."
Sauerkraut at supermarkets is pasteurized. Avoid it. It's so quick to make your own with the Samson Juicer here.
In Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Paul Pitchford writes:
"It is helpful to use some enzyme-rich foods such as unpasteurized sauerkraut and sprouts to maximize the spawning and uptake of B12 in the digestive tract."
Vitamin B12 in Your Colon
Have you read that friendly bacteria in your colon make Vitamin B12 to meet all your body's needs?
This is not true, say dieticians Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina in Becoming Raw - the Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets (2010). Yes they do produce B12. But, they say, it does *not* travel upstream to the small intestine where B12 is absorbed. It "goes with the flow" — meaning that B12 made in your colon ends up in the toilet!
Well that's their belief. Do I buy it? No. I say there's a difference between the B12 we eat and the B12 made by bacteria in our colon.
Take the B12 in your food. Because of its large size and charged nature, B12 first binds to a protein, called intrinsic factor, in the stomach and is then absorbed in the ileum (end of small intestine). But that's the B12 you EAT. What of the B12 your intestinal bacteria make? Do we honestly believe that this B12 *never* gets absorbed by diffusion through the colon walls?
"Absorption of vitamin B12 actually begins in the mouth where small amounts of unbound crystalline B12 can be absorbed through the mucosa membrane. Food protein bound vitamin B12 is digested in the stomach."
In other words, if B12 is not tied to a protein in food, then our mucus membranes can absorb it!
So many nutrients are absorbed in your colon, along with water. Why not fresh unbound B12, same as in the mouth? Wikipedia claims at wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_intestine that:
"The colon absorbs vitamins which are created by the colonic bacteria — such as vitamin K (especially important as the daily ingestion of vitamin K is not normally enough to maintain adequate blood coagulation), vitamin B12, thiamine, and riboflavin."
[my note: wiki's referring to vitamin K1 here, which is a totally different molecule from vitamin K2.]
Your colon absorbs water and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate ions. Gut bacteria produce vitamin K2, and your colon may absorb it (although officially K2 is absorbed in your small intestine).
Many healing practitioners agree with Robert Gray's words in The Colon Health Handbook (1986):
"The most abundant source of vitamin B-12 is a healthy intestinal flora."
Even if these friendly bacteria are not a source of B12, they still do so much other good. Robert Gray writes:
"The digestive enzymes produced by the friendly intestinal bacteria AID the digestive efforts of the body AND act to control the activity of the putrefactive bacteria.
...An equally important function of the friendly bacteria within the intestinal tract is to provide important nutrients for building the blood. A healthy intestinal flora will produce several times as much of many B vitamins as are present in a well-balanced whole-food diet."
Why Do Beans Give You Long Life?
I guess you know you're only 10% human? Bacteria — especially gut flora — make up the other 90% of you. The favorite food of this flora is resistant starch — the kind you find in beans.
Your flora ferment this starch into short chain fatty acids, which give you extra energy. One of those acids, butyrate, reduces inflammation in your colon, and hence protects you from colitis.
Studies — such as The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner — show that the longest lived peoples on earth all eat the plant-strong way. Only one food is eaten by all of them — beans!
When next you read a paleo rant against the toxins in legumes, ask this person: "Why are humans who eat beans enjoying healthy long lives? While those who eat meat are suffering an earlier, painful death?"
Do you sincerely want to know the answer? Just see my review of Don Matesz's book, Powered By Plants: Natural Selection & Human Nutrition.
Don gives the science showing that "the carnivorous caveman has no clothes" (just like the little boy who saw the king has no clothes). We are, in body and soul, "frugifolivores" — a fruit & leaf eater.
A frugivore has the anatomy & physiology that thrives best on botanical fruits. That includes sweet fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains, with lesser amounts of fibrous plant parts (primarily leaves).
Don't believe me! Read Don's book for the science :)
Vitamin B12 Supplement
B12 (also called cobalamin) is essential for your brain, nervous system, and blood cells. Deficiency leads to anemia and severe brain damage. Vegan children and elderly are especially at risk.
To be safe, I take a B12 supplement. Look for the natural B12 called methyl-cobalamin. Synthetic B12 (cyano-cobalamin) does not occur in nature. Our body must convert cyano- into methyl-cobalamin. This results in cyanide byproducts.
In their book, Davis & Melina recommend 10 micrograms (mcg) of B12 a day. But in an expert interview, I heard Brenda Davis say that only 0.5 to 1% of B12 is absorbed. She said we should take 1,000 mcg a day!
Vegan Dr. Michael Klaper also said in a 2013 interview that a 1,000 mcg pill-a-day is good.
That's very expensive. It's much cheaper to get 100% absorption with the B12 patch here.
B12 patches are more powerful than sublingual tablets or liquid B12. You stick the patch behind your ear for a day and it goes right into your bloodstream where you want it. Each patch gives you 1,000 mcg of superior methyl-cobalamin B12.
The patch is second only to B12 shots!
I take two capsules of Super Mega-B twice a week. It's all the B vitamins with 300μg of B12 (μg = microgram). Plus I use one 1,000 mcg patch behind my ear once a month. It's expensive for me to buy patches in US dollars. I live in South Africa. If I could, I'd take it weekly.
Luckily B12 supplements are vegan. Paul Pitchford writes:
"Nearly all B12 supplements are non-synthetic and are not derived from higher animal sources; they are produced from bacteria. For convenience, one fifty-mcg supplement can be taken each week."
It's best to take your mineral supplement on a different day from B12. Pitchford reports that the combo of minerals with B12 can form B12 analogs (pseudo-B12). They fit B12 receptor sites but don't do B12's job. In fact, analogs stop B12 from doing its job — they block the receptors (parking bays) where B12 needs to park.
Spirulina (a cyanobacterium), seaweeds and some algae have pseudo-B12. No plant or animal can make B12. Only bacteria have the right enzymes to synthesize it.
The DRI (daily recommended intake) for B12 is 2.4 mcg a day, that's 72 mcg a month! Whereas Davis & Melina recommend 70 mcg a week (10μg a day) and Pitchford 50 mcg a week.
I believe if you use a patch once a month for 1,000 mcg, and take a multi-B capsule in-between, you'll be A-okay. B vitamins work synergistically, that's why you can't take B12 alone.
Your liver stores enough B12 to last you several years, about 2-5 mg of B12 (2,000 - 5,000 mcg). The RDI is only 876 mcg a year.
My 600 mcg a week is far more B12 than the 50 to 70 mcg the nutritionists recommend. Even if I am absorbing only 1% as Davis claims, I eat so much folate from leafy greens in green smoothies and green juices I've never experienced any B12 deficiency.
Most of B12's work can be done by folate. Wikipedia reports at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12:
"When sufficient folic acid is available, all known B12 related deficiency syndromes normalize, save those narrowly connected with the [two] vitamin B12-dependent enzymes."
They mean folate, not folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that increases your risk of cancer, especially breast, prostate & colorectal cancer.
B12 is not harmful even in very large doses. On the plus side, research shows that high vitamin B12 levels in elderly individuals may protect against brain atrophy or shrinkage. I was born in 1948.
Testing for B12 Deficiency
B12 deficiency is often not recognized until it's too late, and your child's brain or nervous system may be permanently damaged.
Eating a lot of leafy greens, with all their folate, can hide the signs of B12 deficiency such as anemia. Folate is a B vitamin that functions much as B12 does. Your blood test for B12 may look normal while back at the gate your brain is deteriorating due to B12 deficiency.
The most reliable test for B12 status is the hypersegmentation index. You put blood samples under the microscope and count the number of hypersegmented nuclei. The more hypersegmented nuclei, the greater your B12 deficiency.
Also ask for urinary MMA and homocysteine levels, in addition to the standard serum B12 test. This will give you a clear picture.
Now let's colonize your colon with healthy bacteria! Let's make Sauerkraut :)
One Step Sauerkraut
This is the quick recipe I use every week when I'm juicing. It makes one pint (1/2 liter) of cabbage sauerkraut.
- 6 cups chopped cabbage
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice or apple juice
- Run cabbage through Samson Juicer (with mincing screen) into bowl
- Add 1/4t salt and enough juice so that when you press down on cabbage, juice seeps up through your fingers
- Press mixture down into one-pint (1/2-liter) Mason jar, making sure you get all air pockets out
- Fill to just under rim of jar, then add water to brim and screw lid on
- Place jar in a bowl as the whey seeps out
- Leave for 6 days (less in hot summer)
I love this recipe because I never get mold or scum. There's nothing to scrape off the top. You simply unscrew the lid to delicious kraut. Flavor is awesome!
More labor-intensive is to add any other veggies you like such as beetroot and carrot. For crunchier kraut, use some shredded cabbage, don't mince it all in your Juicer.
To receive the benefits of the live lactobacillus bacteria, consume the sauerkraut as soon as possible. After a short period of time the bacteria will die out. They die in their own poop (lactic acid)! That's why I make mine fresh weekly.
Cabbage, Sulfur & Thiocyanates
Cabbage and all the cruciferous vegetables are rich in sulfur. Try to eat sulfur greens often — that's any plant of the Mustard family. These Mustardians all work well for sauerkraut: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese celery, rutabaga, and turnip. Also garlic and onion (Lily family) are high in sulfur. Throw them into your kraut!
Sulfur is in only three amino acids (all the rest have nitrogen) so it's hard to get enough sulfur — needed especially for healthy hair, skin, nails (sulfur is the element in their keratin protein) and for joints.
The Mustard family veggies also stimulate the production of enzymes that neutralize cancer-causing chemicals. We've all heard about broccoli sprouts!
It's so easy to grow rich green broccoli sprouts with an Automatic Sprouter in your kitchen or basement.
Many cabbage family veggies — like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower (and also flax seeds) — contain thiocyanates that interfere with your thyroid *only if* you're eating too little iodine. The good news is that fermenting them, as in sauerkraut, eliminates thiocyanates.
If like me, you eat a lot of them raw and unfermented, then make sure you get enough iodine daily! A half teaspoon of dulse granules or 1/16 tsp of kelp powder will do the trick.
(customized by me for Samson Juicer)
Thank you, Rhio, for permission to reprint this Hungarian recipe from Hooked on Raw: Rejuvenate Your Body and Soul With Nature's Living Foods (2000). Visit Rhio's site rawfoodinfo.com for her newsletter and books.
- 1 medium green cabbage
- 1/2 medium red cabbage
- 2 small muslin bags with 2 tsp. caraway seeds in each
- a few bay leaves
- 1/2 quince or 1 apple
- small bunch of grapes or 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
(1) Peel the outer leaves from the cabbage and set them aside. You'll need about 5 or 6 large leaves.
(2) Cut the green cabbage and put it through the Samson Juicer with the Mincing Cone in place. Cut the red cabbage and juice it, using the Juicing Screen. Mix the red cabbage juice and the red cabbage pulp (left over from making the juice) together. Then with your hands, blend the two cabbage mixtures together and add in the Celtic sea salt (salt is optional).
This method saves a whole lot of trouble. In the old days, you had to grate and pound the cabbage to get it to mush up and release the juices. The Samson juicer now does the same job easily.
If you want more texture or crunch in your sauerkraut, grate or shred part of the cabbage (about two cups) and add it into the above mixture.
(3) In a large glass bowl or ceramic crock, put in one layer of the cabbage mixture about 2 inches high. Slice the quince (or apple) into thin slices and lay a few pieces on top of the cabbage, add a few raisins (or mashed grapes), then place one of the bags with the caraway seeds on top, along with 3 bay leaves.
Put another layer of cabbage on top and repeat the same thing — quince, grapes, caraway bag and bay leaves. Add a final layer of cabbage on top.
(4) Then cover the mixture with the large cabbage leaves you saved in the beginning. Push the mixture down firmly to get rid of any air pockets. Put a cotton cloth over the cabbage leaves in the bowl.
(5) Set this bowl into a larger bowl and then take a one gallon plastic water jug and fill with water, cap the top and set the jug on top of the cotton cloth. You need to have weight on top of the cabbage so that it will ferment properly.
(6) Cover with a cotton towel and let it stand at room temperature for about 6 days (half as long in warmer weather), after which time vou will have some wonderful sauerkraut.
(7) When it's ready, take the cabbage leaves off and discard. Also spoon off any dark or off-color spots or white scum that may be on top of the sauerkraut. This is a harmless yeast called kahm.
(8) Put the sauerkraut (minus the quince, bay leaves and caraway bags) into a large glass jar and store in the refrigerator. This recipe makes over a quart.
Thank you to Nomi Shannon for permission to print this easy recipe from her book The Raw Gourmet (© Alive Books, 1999).
- Use one head of fresh organic red or green cabbage, and several pieces of seaweed, e.g. wakame or dulse
- Can also add sliced apple layers for sweetness
- Alternate each cabbage layer (1-2 inches deep) with layer of seaweed or apple (cabbage-seaweed-cabbage-apple)
- Press down with your hands as you make the layers
- Finish with steps (4) to (8) above and discard the apple along with the top cabbage leaves
- Keep seaweed for salads.
Sauerkraut is ready when it has that "zing" and tastes good.
Use combinations of hard fibrous vegetables — beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, daikon, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip.
Then flavor your kraut with any spice combo, such as basil, caraway, curry, dill, garlic, ginger, onion. One or two will create a full-flavored kraut.
Here's three tasty delights, adapted from Vibrant Living by James Levin and Natalie Cederquist (recently back in print) — as usual, end with steps (4) to (8) above:
- Classic Dilly Kraut — 1 green cabbage, 1/2 red onion, 2 garlic cloves and 1.5 Tbsp dill weed. Run all through Samson with Mincing Screen. Pack down into bowl with hands, getting all the air out.
- The juice should come up between your fingers. If it doesn't, juice 1-2 cups chopped cabbage in Samson, and stir juice into minced veggies.
- Curried Carrot Kraut — 1 green cabbage, 6 med-large carrots, 1 small red onion, 1-2 Tbsp curry powder, 1 garlic clove. Same as Classic Dilly but juice 2 of the carrots for extra juiciness.
- Ruby Ginger Kraut — a gentle sweet taste from the apple and ginger — 1 red cabbage, 3 beets, 9 ribs celery, 1 cup apple juice, 2.5 Tbl ginger, optional 1/3 cup filtered water. Mince all ingredients in Samson and stir in apple juice, and water if needed.
And two new ones from The Raw Gourmet by Nomi Shannon — end each with steps (4) to (8):
- Mixed Kraut — 1 cabbage, 3 carrots, 2 beets, 1 onion, 1-3 garlic cloves. Run through Samson with Mincing Screen. Stir in 1-2 tsp caraway seeds, before packing down and layering with apple and seaweed.
- Vegetable Kraut — 6 large carrots, 4 beets, turnip (or parsnip or rutabaga) to equal half the amount of carrots, 1 small onion and garlic to taste. Same as mixed kraut, layering with apple and seaweed.
Enjoy A Variety of Krauts
Organic, Freshly-picked and Variety are the Three Keys to Healthy Raw Eating. The more varied your diet, the more nutrients you get.
Sauerkraut is a great way to eat the starchy root vegetables raw, where friendly bacteria and live enzymes break down the starches into simple sugars. It's now a predigested food, quick 'n easy for you to digest.
Raw sauerkraut gives you enzymes. Cooked starch robs you of enzymes. Enzymes are one key to longevity and youth. They are only in raw foods.
Arguments Against Sauerkraut
I loved fermented foods like sauerkraut and almond cream in my first ten years of healing and going raw. Then I grew out of them. David Wolfe wrote in the magazine Just Eat An Apple that this is true of most raw fooders.
If you don't like the strong smell of fermented foods, then they're probably not for you.
Natural hygienist Dr. Doug Graham does not eat fermented foods. He writes in his book The 80/10/10 Diet:
"Given that humans could not consume these types of decomposed products in nature without tools and containers, we may safely categorize them as unnatural and certainly not among the foods we would primarily use for sustenance.
Most Americans consume with abandon something that never occurred in nature — a pathogenic putrefactive product called cheese. Cheese represents all the decomposition products in a single package: putrefactive proteins, fermented carbohydrates, and rancid fats.
You need only to refer to a good dictionary to learn just how poisonous these substances are."
Live Younger Longer
People known for their longevity, health and good digestion — the Hunzas (Himalayas), Georgians (Caucasus Mts) and Equadorians (Andes) — all consume sauerkraut and other fermented foods, writes Sproutman Steve Meyerowitz in his book Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook.
All-in-all, to help you digest all foods and keep your colon healthy, eat a tablespoon a day of home-made sauerkraut.
The safest foods to ferment are the LOW-protein veggies like cabbage and carrot. Quit toxic high-protein cow yogurt — you only harm yourself and the animals. The excess protein in milk robs your bones of calcium.
Switch to Sauerkraut and Green Juices !
Best pages to learn more:
- How to Clean Your Colon — it's critical to clean your colon first, before you repopulate it with healthy bacteria.
- My Review of Don Matesz's book — Powered By Plants: Natural Selection & Human Nutrition. The World Health Organization found that meat is linked to high risk of colorectal cancer.
- Juicing Links — see all info on Juicing.
- Site Map — see the whole feast :)
Stay Up-to-Date !
Liked this post? Then, you'll love my Insider updates.
I don't post to this blog super often.
So, if you're not on my email list, you're missing out on most of what goes on around here :)
Hello Val, I really love your site, it has to be one of the best raw food sites I have found on the net.