The Three Dollar Probiotic

The Three Dollar Probiotic

Justin Suyama


Did you know that cabbage is a power house superfood?

It contains, many vitamins, for example vitamin A, a host of B vitamins including folate, C, E, plenty of minerals and is full of phytonutrients, indoles, Vitamin U and many sulphur containing compounds.

I’ve been making this recipe for a few years now, particularly when I know my digestion is challenged. This comes about through my less than perfect lifestyle (hey, we’re all growing, living life and one cannot live in an ivory tower!). So when I want to “reset” my gut I turn to a very simple recipe.

Simple and cheap.


According to a lab that analyzed some kraut from Dr. Mercola, roughly “4-6 ounces” of kraut contained over “ten trillion bacteria.” When you consider most capsule probiotics as having on average 2 billion and the cost of the supplement itself being anywhere from $15-40 for a month supply, I typically always turn to this recipe as my first choice. On a side note, there are certain strains of probiotic bacteria that, through clinical studies, have shown to have good effects on such things as one’s mental health and other specialty concerns, thus I don’t discount probiotics and that topic will be covered in more detail at another time. I am however I proponent of making your own probiotics and food ferments at home.

So what sort of probiotic strains are in cabbage juice (and sauerkraut)?

There are four primary strains, L. mesenteroides, Lactobacillus Brevis, Pediococcus pentosaceus and Lactobacillus plantarum along with a host of other strains in varying degrees including Weissella species, Lactobacillus curvatus, Lactobacillus sakei, Lactobacillus coryniformis, Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc fallax, Leuconostoc citreum and Leuconostoc argentinum, according to the December 2007 issue of “Applied and Environmental Microbiology.”

It’s worthy to note that each batch will have a different makeup and quantity of such bacterias based on a number of mediating factors such as the time of year the cabbage is grown and harvested, what kind of cabbage, where it is grown and I suspect what other things you add to the kraut to add flavor, along with length of time you allow the ferment.

So here’s the simple recipe.


1 head of organic green of red cabbage
1 gallon of filtered water

You will need:

1 gallon glass wide mouth jar
Rubber band, paper towel and/or cheesecloth with paper towel
Food processor or blender



Prepare your 1 gallon glass wide mouth jar by cleaning it, then sanitize it using either boiling water (if using this method, place it on a towel on your countertop and ensure you jar is up to room temperature and pour the water slowly so as not to break the glass). Or sometimes I use a vodka or everclear type alcohol and lightly spray the inside. Take a paper towel and fold it over the mouth of the jar to keep dust from getting in.

0) I usually pull off the outer leaves as a means of “cleaning” the cabbage. I assume that the outer leaves, which have come into contact with other hands, grocery bag, and whatever else floats in the air at the vegetable section of your supermarket may introduce bacteria that may be counterproductive to the quick fermentation of the cabbage juice. You may choose to use a veggie wash. Either methods work.


1) Take your head of cabbage and cut it into half. I typically cut through the stem to the top, but this might be tough for some. The object is to cut it into manageable pieces to fit into your blender or food processor. I usually cut the hard stem by V-cutting it to remove it from the cabbage.



2) Once cut up, place the cabbage pieces and water into your blender or food processor and turn the cabbage into mush. Pour this mush into your sterilized jar, replace paper towel. Rinse and repeat with the rest of the cabbage.



3) Once you’ve poured all of the cabbage mush into the jar, top it off with liquid. I like to add enough liquid to cover the cabbage. You can sprinkle in some salt (celtic, Himalayan, Kosher or sea salt, not table), though this is unnecessary. This will help speed up the ferment but it is unnecessary! Also, adding too much salt may give you a salty tasting cabbage juice. Otherwise the cabbage juice itself tastes somewhat neutral. It’s hard to explain. You’d think, if it’s your first time, that it will taste bad. It doesn’t (the smell during the ferment is another matter). Sure it’s not beer (another probiotic drink if unpasteurized, of course consumed in moderation and preferably organic and home made), nor will it have the same flavor as typical store bought sauerkraut.

By the way, if you don’t have a blender or food processor, you can finely dice up the cabbage or use a grater. The idea is to create as much open contactable surface-to-water to allow the residual bacteria a chance to do it’s thang.


4) Put the paper towel over the top and secure it with a rubber band. This will allow it to breath a little but will keep dust out. Write the date on the paper towel so that you know when you put it into your cupboard.  Store this inside your pantry or some other dark place for 3 days, maybe 5 if your ambient temperatures are under 68 degrees.


5) After 3-5 days, take your jar and skim off the top layer of cabbage. Then you will pour this into another container. It can be tricky to do this without spilling, but the idea is to pour it through a strainer of sorts and to then press out the cabbage mush of any liquid. At this point, what will be left behind is simple cabbage juice.

6) Put a lid on your jar and put it into the refrigerator. If you’re new to cabbage juice, then try drinking only 2-4 ounces and observe the effects. It shouldn’t produce much gas, if any. You can work yourself up to drinking 6-8 ounces at a time and you can divide up your dosage with a morning drink and evening drink.

Tips, Notes, Alterations to the Recipe:

Cabbage and it’s bacterial content is a living thing and therefore this is not a science. You can make it with less water and less cabbage. You can cut the recipe into half. I typically store this in my fridge for a week then discard the left-overs, though I have consumed it after even two weeks. It should be fine, because it’s fermented. It might be more “bity” after a few days. This is normal.



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