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Sauerkraut Is A Power Food

Sauerkraut is fermented white cabbage. It is a high-quality probiotic food. Sauerkraut is made with the help of lactic acid bacteria, which makes the white cabbage easier to digest. But the bacteria themselves and the lactic acid they produce are also beneficial for the digestive system.

Sauerkraut: Optimal food in the cold season

Sauerkraut is made by fermenting white cabbage with the help of lactic acid bacteria. The lactic acid bacteria are already on the fresh cabbage and, when the conditions allow (warm temperatures, lack of oxygen, liquid environment), they begin to process the cabbage into sauerkraut.

It’s easy to imagine how our ancestors might have discovered this tasty dish. Someone probably rediscovered a forgotten bowl of raw cabbage salad weeks later and was delighted to discover that the cabbage, while somehow different, didn’t necessarily taste bad – and, what’s more, it kept very well in this new form.

If you just leave the cabbage on your own, it can happen that the wrong bacteria, unwanted yeast, or mold settle, and the cabbage spoils. Therefore, there are a few important rules to follow when making sauerkraut. But then making your own sauerkraut is child’s play. You can find instructions on how to do this below.

Sauerkraut provides live probiotic lactic acid bacteria

Sauerkraut is formed when the microorganisms process the sugar in the fresh cabbage during the fermentation process. They also digest the cellulose, making the cabbage easier to digest. The microorganisms themselves multiply massively, which is why sauerkraut – eaten raw – can be regarded as an optimal probiotic food.

In contrast to probiotic food supplements, the probiotic lactic acid bacteria were neither processed nor dried and filled into capsules. They are in a completely undamaged, natural, fresh, and alive form.

The only disadvantage (compared to probiotic food supplements) is that you do not know which bacteria are actually in what quantity that you are consuming with this or that quantity of sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut contains B vitamins

Sauerkraut contains more B vitamins than fresh cabbage – including vitamin B12. However, it is controversial whether the vitamin B12 it contains is also bioavailable. And even if it were, the amounts contained should be too small to make a significant contribution to covering demand. Therefore, sauerkraut can be wonderful e.g. B. with vitamin B6 but is not a reliable source of vitamin B12.

Sauerkraut: An ancient superfood

Sauerkraut and many other foods fermented with lactic acid are – in some cases ancient – superfoods, i.e. foods that offer the body very special benefits. In the case of fermented foods, it is the lactic acid bacteria mentioned, their metabolic products, and the easier digestibility of the cabbage as a result of the fermentation.

In ancient times, people may not have known about the existence of probiotic microorganisms, but people felt their positive effects on the body even then. And so our ancestors all over the world developed all sorts of fermented foods such as B. yogurt, sour milk, kefir, kvass, natto, tempeh, miso, and many more.

Sauerkraut in olden times

Especially in times when fresh food was not available, i.e. during long winters or on longer sea voyages, fermented food saved many people’s lives. This way, seafarers, for example, had provisions that could last for months and still provide them with essential vitamins, including vitamin C, so that they were protected against scurvy – a painful and ultimately fatal vitamin C deficiency disease.

At the same time, the sauerkraut with its valuable lactic acid bacteria protected the seafarers from digestive problems, which were certainly not exactly uncommon when living for months or even years in overcrowded and unhygienic lower decks.

Sauerkraut: preferably homemade

It is therefore definitely worth planting cabbage again in your own garden – if you have one. Freshly harvested, it is tender and can be used wonderfully for fine coleslaw. Those microorganisms already live on the surface of the cabbage leaves, which then multiply billions of times during the fermentation of the cabbage into sauerkraut.

As a result, even fresh cabbage – if eaten raw – provides valuable lactic acid bacteria, strengthens the organism, and makes it resistant to all kinds of diseases.

Pasteurized sauerkraut is less good

Sauerkraut from cans and jars, on the other hand, is less suitable. The heating killed the lactic acid bacteria. The fermentation is therefore now stopped. With raw sauerkraut, the fermentation continues – even at home in the refrigerator. This makes the sauerkraut more and more acidic. Pasteurized sauerkraut therefore often tastes milder.

Nevertheless, pasteurized sauerkraut still contains lactic acid and other metabolic products of the bacteria, so this sauerkraut can still have advantages, but it is no longer a probiotic food.

Where to buy sauerkraut

Raw, i.e. unheated (unpasteurized) sauerkraut is available throughout the winter in farm shops, organic shops, organic supermarkets, and also in some supermarkets – the latter may not be of organic quality.

In organic and farm shops it is sometimes sold openly so you can bring your own bowl or you can get it bottled in small buckets in the refrigerated section. There are often wonderfully flavored variations, e.g. B. with apples, fennel, and herbs, which can increase the health value of sauerkraut.

However, organic shops also sell pasteurized sauerkraut in bags. Although this is organic sauerkraut, it is heated sauerkraut. So if you value unpasteurized sauerkraut, pay attention to the information on the packaging.

Our tip for eating sauerkraut

Raw sauerkraut tastes wonderful with a little linseed oil, hemp oil, or olive oil as a salad or as an accompaniment to many dishes. If you want to eat sauerkraut warm, warm it up carefully, but don’t boil it. You will see that fresh, raw sauerkraut basically tastes much more aromatic and pleasant than many a soft-boiled sour “mud” that is sold under the name sauerkraut.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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