Sauerkraut is a traditional German dish made from fermented cabbage. It has been a dietary staple in many European countries for centuries. Its tangy taste and unique texture have made it a popular ingredient in many dishes, from hot dogs to salads. But sauerkraut is much more than just a flavourful condiment. It is also a highly nutritious food with a range of health benefits. In this blog post, we’ll explore the health benefits of German sauerkraut and why you should consider adding it to your diet.
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is made by fermenting shredded cabbage with lactic acid bacteria. It is a good source of probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, and has been linked to a number of health benefits. During the fermentation process, the bacteria convert the natural sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which gives sauerkraut its distinctive sour taste. The fermentation process also produces beneficial probiotics, which are known to promote good digestive health.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the beneficial bacteria that naturally live in our gut. They can help to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and protect against disease. Sauerkraut is a good source of probiotics, containing about 100 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per serving.
Vitamins and minerals
Sauerkraut is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, manganese, potassium and copper. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that can help to protect the body against damage from free radicals. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health. Vitamin B6 is important for energy metabolism and brain function. Folate is important for cell growth and development. Manganese is important for bone health and metabolism. Copper is important for iron absorption and immune function. Potassium helps regulate your blood pressure and supports healthy muscle function.
Sauerkraut has been linked to a number of health benefits, including:
- Improved digestion
- Boosted immune system
- Reduced risk of disease
- Weight loss
- Heart health
- Bone health
- Brain health
- Skin health
Sauerkraut boosts digestive health
As mentioned earlier, sauerkraut is a rich source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and aid digestion. Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, which is essential for optimal digestive health. Eating sauerkraut regularly can help alleviate digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Sauerkraut supports immune function
Sauerkraut is also rich in antioxidants, which help boost your immune system and protect your body from illness and disease. The probiotics in sauerkraut can also help strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies, which fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
Sauerkraut lowers inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The probiotics and antioxidants in sauerkraut can help reduce inflammation in your body, which can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
How to make sauerkraut
- 1 1 litre preserving jar A wide mouth flip top jar with a rubber or silicone ring is ideal
- 1 sauerkraut stomper This can be wooden or stone, a pestle can work well
- 1 cabbage, cleaned and shredded
- 1 tbsp celtic sea salt
- Mix the cabbage with the salt in a bowl and leave it standing for about 30 minutes so that the cells can start breaking down and the fluids of the cabbage will start flowing.
- Check after 30 minutes, when you see the fluids flowing then transfer the cabbage to the preserving jar and press it down firmly as you want to make sure that there are no air pockets in the cabbage as lactic acid fermentation is an anaerobic process.
- Make sure that the room between the cabbage and the top of the jar is at least 2.5 cm or 1 inch.
- Leave it at room temperature for about 3 days to kickstart the fermentation process. After that you can transfer it to cold storage to let it ferment for some weeks.
- We like to leave it to ferment for about a month before we start eating it, but it can already be eaten after a week of fermentation.
This would be:
2 bay leaves
3 juniper berries
1 tbsp caraway seeds
4 to 5 black peppercorns
How to eat sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes or on its own. Here are a few ways to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet:
- Add sauerkraut to hot dogs or sausages for a tangy twist on a classic dish.
- Use sauerkraut as a topping for sandwiches or burgers.
- Use sauerkraut as a topping for wraps.
- Mix sauerkraut into salads for a flavourful crunch.
- Use sauerkraut as a side dish to complement meat or fish dishes.
- Enjoy sauerkraut as a snack straight out of the jar.
It can also be cooked into soups, stews, and other dishes, though then it looses a lot of the health benefits due to the heat of cooking. You can considering adding it later when your food had cooled down to about 60C or 140F to make sure that the microbes in the sauerkraut remain alive.
When choosing sauerkraut, look for a product that is naturally fermented and made with organic cabbage and contains no added sugar or vinegar. Sauerkraut should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several months.
Sauerkraut is a delicious and nutritious food that offers a range of health benefits, from supporting digestive health to boosting immune function and reducing inflammation, sauerkraut is a valuable addition to any diet. Sauerkraut can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is a good source of probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Whether you’re a fan of traditional German cuisine or simply looking for a new way to incorporate probiotics into your diet, sauerkraut is definitely worth a try.
So next time you are at the supermarket, be sure to pick up a jar of sauerkraut!
Make your own
Try making your own sauerkraut: If you’ve never tried making sauerkraut at home, now’s the perfect time to give it a go! Check out my recipe and let me know what you think of the results.