School of sauerkraut: Ukrainian health consultant teaches fermented food recipe at workshop

TRURO, N.S. — Luba Synyuk immigrated to Canada from Ukraine 15 years ago.

A medical doctor by training, she has always been fascinated with how one’s diet correlates with their general wellbeing.

An instance of culture shock struck her when she realized how different an approach Canadian doctors took to healthcare.

“In Europe, it’s a more holistic approach,” Synyuk explained. “People would go first to change their diet, to go to physio, acupuncture, and everything in between. After, they will go for pills, and surgery will be a last resort.”

To Synyuk, this (Canada’s approach) differs drastically from her native country. Instead of focusing on treating symptoms, they nearly always start with inspecting one’s diet.

“The reason I’m for more natural healing, a more holistic approach, I believe you always have to look at your food and look at supplements as a last resort.”

After coming to Canada, Synyuk obtained a master’s degree in applied human nutrition from Mount Saint Vincent University. She then opened her own business in Truro called Luba4Health in 2022, where she takes on clients to help improve their health via dietary means.

One of the best foods for one’s health, according to Synyuk, is a favourite in Ukraine — sauerkraut.

As a way to keep the art of making sauerkraut alive, she offered a workshop on Nov. 17, asking people to join her in making a batch of sauerkraut. Thirteen participants joined in.

In the class, she taught people about the fermentation process, as well as how sauerkraut could be incorporated into one’s diet.

“It’s much more than sauerkraut on top of the hotdog,” joked Synyuk.

In fact, Synyuk said she knew of 30 different ways it could be used in meals, often as a topping or side dish.

“When it’s fermented, it’s (more) beneficial,” said Synyuk. “It contains more vitamin C, more vitamin E and K.”

Sauerkraut also contains a hefty number of probiotics, which are thought to have a positive influence on intestinal health. A research article from the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis stated that probiotics found in fermented food such as sauerkraut, “have shown positive responses to clinical treatment against several diseases and disorders, such as diarrhea associated with rotavirus, IBS and food allergies.”

To make sauerkraut, Synyuk said people just need a few key ingredients — cabbage, salt and a mason jar. The first step is to shred the cabbage, then put it in the jar. Add salt, put on the lid, and the water from the cabbage will merge with the salt to create its own brine.

Synyuk said it is best to wait two weeks for the sauerkraut to ferment, but it can also be opened at one week if people are not looking for as pungent a taste.

While Synyuk added there are many other ingredients that can be added to alter the taste, this is the simplest recipe for making sauerkraut. In her class, she also added grated carrots to the jar.

Shredded cabbage and carrot, ready to be fermented. - Contributed
Shredded cabbage and carrot, ready to be fermented. – Contributed

“I encouraged everybody to make their own,” said Synyuk. “One lady shared with me pictures, the same night, of her jar of sauerkraut. A few people emailed me the next day. It was great to receive those pictures.

“This type of workshop brings like-minded people together,” she added. “It’s a type of art that is almost lost.”

Debbie Kalman participated in the workshop and came back for a taste test on Nov. 24.

“It’s the best sauerkraut I’ve ever tried,” she said. “It’s delicious.”

Kalman found the class to be enlightening and is now fully invested in making her own sauerkraut at home.

“I went to Luba’s class, and last Friday I had everything in the house and my own sauerkraut. I’m really anxious to get going with that.”

Synyuk’s first class went so well that she plans on holding more. She held a second class on Dec. 1 and plans to teach several more in the new year. Synyuk also hopes to expand her workshops into other foods that can improve dietary health, such as broccoli sprouts.

To keep up to date on any workshops offered by Synyuk, check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Luba4Health.


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