Archive for August, 2014

Gourmet Spicy Kraut

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Canning, pickling, and freezing are all worthy methods for preserving your garden’s bounty, but fermenting your gorgeous surplus of vegetables is even better. When performed correctly, raw fermentation is a miracle of nature with infinite possibilities for nutritional therapy – all in a delicious, tangy side dish perfectly paired with your favorite meats or eaten alone. Like kefir and other fermented foods, fermented vegetables provide highly concentrated sources of probiotics with a wide range of benefits from naturally lifting one’s mood to strengthening the immune system and boosting gut health. Done correctly, fermented vegetables can be stored up to 8 months. Since probiotic strains vary with the vegetable, this recipe is especially healthful (and addictive) because of the array of vegetables included.

This week’s fermentation is a gourmet spicy kraut reminiscent of kimchi but easier to make and fun to improvise with new variations. It is DELICIOUS! Other fermentation recipes call for using whey, but I believe it’s unnecessary and worth avoiding. Enjoy our other fermented food recipes, including German Sauerkraut, Organic Ginger Beet Kvass, Lacto-Fermented Garlic, and Traditional Korean Kimchi.

spicy kraut


1 small green cabbage, outer leaves removed, 1” wide slices, coarsely chopped

6 bok choy, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, sliced into thin rounds

3” diakon radish, sliced into thin rounds, then in half (half rounds)

4 big garlic cloves, chopped

1½” length of ginger, peeled and grated

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1/8 to 1/4 cup Korean chili powder (gochugaru) to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons sea salt to taste


Gallon fermentation jar with airlock system

Weights for keeping spicy kraut immersed in its own brine

Mason quart jars for storage

Please note fermentation jars with airlocks and glass weights can be purchased online from Cultures For Health or The Probiotic Jar.


  • Clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces; the cleaner your environment the better.
  • Clean and sanitize the equipment (fermentation jar, weights) to ensure the absence of pathogenic bacteria. Be sure to rinse off the equipment after sanitizing it so doesn’t kill off the beneficial bacteria needed for fermentation.
  • After washing and prepping the produce, add it all to a large mixing bowl.
  • With latex gloves on, hand-mix together the kraut with the Korean chili powder and salt until thoroughly mixed together. The salt will draw moisture from the produce, which is essential for developing the brine.
  • Pack the kraut salad tightly into your fermentation jar. Add any leftover juices to the fermentation jar.
  • Add weight on top of the packed kraut to ensure the produce is well submerged in liquid –the anaerobic environment is critical for proper fermentation and preventing contamination. Spicy kraut wants to be suffocated!
  • If the kraut is light on liquid, then add salted water as needed. (Over the next 24 hours, the kraut will produce more liquid as the salt pulls moisture out of the vegetables.)
  • Tighten the airlock lid and fill the airlock with water to the fill line. Make sure the lid is on tight and the airlock is screwed in securely – we only want gases leaving the container. When properly sealed, the airlock lid makes contamination or spoilage practically impossible.
  • Ideal fermentation temperature is around 68-72 degrees and ok up to 75 degrees. Technically, the kraut is ready in 2 weeks, but is at its best in terms of flavor and probiotic content when it ferments for 3.5 to 4 weeks. More than 4 weeks, the kraut can turn mushy.
  • A little bit of white froth or a white film may form on the liquid surface; this is harmless and will resolve itself. If black mold develops on the surface, then don’t eat it. For information on common mistakes and troubleshooting, read Food Renegades blog on the matter.
  • After 3.5 to 4 weeks of fermentation, move the spicy kraut into quart mason jars, pack it down, top off with brine, and store in the refrigerator. It’s good for up to 8 months.

Support Brands like MELT Sourcing Fair Trade Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

With permission from Dr. Bronner’s, we are pleased to reprint Lisa Bronner’s blog on Dr. Bronner’s sourcing of organic virgin coconut oil certified Fair For Life by the IMO. Lisa’s blog is an impressive testament to the importance of supporting brands like MELT® Organic and Dr. Bronner’s who go the extra mile to source the highest quality ingredients that also foster excellent labor practices in Third World countries. Both brands source our coconut oil from Serendipol in Sri Lanka.

A Closer Look at Fair Trade

July 16th, 2014

The Bronner Mom is far from home.  In fact, I could hardly be further.  Kuliyapatiyia, Sri Lanka.  A 12 ½ hour time change.  Site of Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade coconut oil project Serendipol.  And before you go off thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Sri Lanka.  I bet she does that all the time”, let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t.

I am learning firsthand what Fair Trade is all about.  In a nutshell (coconut shells, to be exact!) Fair Trade is a certification that verifies all the practices you hope your favorite companies already do.  Fair Trade is about people – paying living wages and providing community benefits for farmers, workers and their families.

“I buy organic.  Doesn’t that mean it’s all good?”

Organic means a lot of good things: no petrochemical pesticides, no synthetics, no GMO’s to name a few.  But Organic is completely silent about the issue of labor.  While it is better for laborers not to be exposed to all that, they could still be paid pittance, work in slummy conditions, and live in near poverty while providing us with our organic goodies. This is where Fair Trade comes in.  Organic certification is a pre-requisite for Fair Trade certification.

What Fair Trade looks like at Serendipol

A witness to worker well-being at Serendipol is the employee retention rate.  Workers stay.  They don’t find better work elsewhere.  What they have at Serendipol is very good.

Guaranteed year round work.

Annual bonuses

Daily production incentives

Fixed monthly salaries

Direct deposit bank accounts

Eye care and medical benefits

school books , uniforms and shoes annually for all employee children

Grants for employee personal home improvement projects.

There’s also a physiotherapist on site twice weekly to assist workers in worker-related muscle fatigue or strain.  There are morale boosting annual family celebrations with cricket, badminton, and other competitions.  There are educational opportunities for workers and farmers to provide advancement or increased yield.

Here’s one [example] of the improvement in the socio-economic well being of the workers:


Initially, the factory provided a shed for all the employees’ bikes.  Now, more space is needed for their motorcycles.  Some employees already have tuk-tuks (local three wheeled vehicles) or even cars.  Gordon de Silva, Serendipol’s Managing Director,  joked, but seriously, that he’s soon going to have to buy additional property for employee parking.

Serendipol is a state of the art facility whose goal in 2014 is to process 20 million coconuts.  They’re on track.  They receive 17 truckloads of nuts every day.


These gleaming silos hold the oil before final filtration.


That’s a lot of coconuts!


Here’s an on-site vegetable garden whose produce is all given to employees.


The buildings at Serendipol are beautifully constructed.


The grounds are lush and manicured with landscaped paths, flower beds, and even a badminton court.  There is also an employee canteen to provide a comfortable place for them to eat their meals.

I’m going to stop here for the day and I haven’t even gotten to the multitude of Community Improvement Projects Serendipol has funded.  Stay tuned.

Fair Trade is not as widespread as it should be.  It’s a concept many consumers as well as suppliers and manufacturers are still finding out about.  You won’t find all your products available with Fair Trade options.  But the ball has started rolling.  Help it pick up speed by

Asking companies to pursue Fair Trade certification

Buying products from companies with strong Fair Trade certification

Educating friends and associates about what Fair Trade is and how much it does.

Check out more information about Serendipol on the Dr. Bronner’s website,, including the Coconut Rock video.  Also, our Serendiworld site shares about all of our Fair Trade operations worldwide.  

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