Profile: Sauerkraut

Needing more goodness in your diet, but only have a few dollars to spare? There is a cheap solution that will introduce probiotics, vitamin C and cancer fighting goodness into your diet; Sauerkraut. It is a versatile condiment, with a tangy flavour that can be added to burgers, used as a topping/side dish or eaten on its own.

 

What is Sauerkraut? A fermented cabbage condiment, traditionally made from cabbage and salt.

How do you say it? Most people say “sour krout”

sauerkraut10

Why is it good for you?

  1. Sauerkraut will repair your gut, and heal stomach ulcers.
  2. Has more probiotics than a bowl of yoghurt.
  3. Fiber to help digestion.
  4. Contains a great amount of Vitamin A, and C. Little side story: Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) killed many British sailors during the 1700s, especially on longer voyages. In the late 1770s, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the world without losing a single sailor to scurvy, thanks to the foods his ship carried, including sixty barrels of sauerkraut!
  5.  Helps to lower cholesterol levels.
  6. Has lots of strains of good bacteria which will boost your bowel flora.
  7. Finnish researchers reported that in laboratory studies,a substance produced by fermented cabbage, isothiocyanates, helped prevent the growth of cancer.Natural News has written a great post about the health benefits of sauerkraut.

If you are interested in more of the good things eating sauerkraut has to offer- check out this article by John P Thomas; Sauerkraut: Anti-cancer Fermented Food that Restores Gut Flora.

Colours and varietiesDepends on the colour of the cabbage, which is can be green, white or purple. Sometimes other vegetables or herbs are added, such as carrots, mustard seeds or garlic- this will alter the colour and appearance of kraut.

cabbage

Texture: Slightly crunchy, sort of like stir-fried cabbage.

Taste: It is tangy, and a bit tart. It has a slight vinegar taste, that blends well with savoury meat dishes. Some say it is an ‘acquired taste’ however, if you like other fermented products I’m sure you would love this.

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Preparation:  This is an affordable superfood that you can make at home. All you need to do is combine shredded cabbage with some salt and pack it into a container, a mason jar is perfect for small batches. The cabbage releases liquid, creating its own brine solution.When it is submerged in this liquid for a period of several days or weeks, the cabbage slowly ferments into the crunchy, sour condiment we know and love as sauerkraut. See my post: Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar for a recipe.

 

sauerkraut-bratwurst

Where can I get it? Most supermarkets and healthfood stores will sell sauerkraut. However, the fresher the kraut the more benefits it has. Making it at home is simple and easy and very cheap (only 2 Ingredients)!

How is Sauerkraut Fermented?

Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. Put simply: Beneficial bacteria are present on the surface of the cabbage (and all fruits and vegetables). Lactobacillus is one of those bacteria, (which is found in yogurt and many other cultured products) when cabbage is submerged in a brine, the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. This is a naturally occuring preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.

Why Ferment Cabbage?

Lacto-fermentation has been used for centuries to preserve seasonal vegetables beyond their standard shelf-life. The fermentation process itself is very reliable and safe, and the fermented sauerkraut can be kept at cellar temperature for months, or stored in the fridge. Besides preserving the cabbage, this fermentation process also transforms it into something incredibly tasty and gives it additional health benefits — fermented sauerkraut contains a lot of the same healthy probiotics as a bowl of yogurt.

 

Want to Know More?

  • The Healthy Eating Site has great information about sauerkraut for people of all experiences with fermenting.
  • The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz – Check them out for a great all-around resource on fermentation in general, fermentation problem-solving, and fermentation health benefits.
  • Cultures for Health – A popular online resource for fermentation cultures and equipment, but I also turn to them for a lot of information on fermenting. They also have a free e-book on lacto-fermentation that is available if you sign up for their newsletter.

 

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