Sauerkraut is a German word that means “sour cabbage”. It is produced by fermenting cabbage leaves with a bacterial culture. In its raw form it is one of the original probiotic foods. Although many packaged sauerkraut products have pasteurized the sauerkraut products they sell, so this beneficial effect is lost. To get true probiotic sauerkraut, you will have to shop in a European deli or health food store or you can make your own (see bottom of blog for helpful links). Plus the fermentation process actually helps make sauerkraut very easy to digest (as opposed to raw cabbage).
Why is it Healthy?
Sauerkraut is healthy for many reasons, including its exceptionally high content of L-glutamine. L-glutamine is an amino acid that is excellent for your digestive system. In fact studies have shown that it helps to heal the gut lining. Cabbage juice is an old home remedy for stomach ulcers. Why does your gut need so much L-glutamine? Because these cells in your body replace themselves every 3-7 days. That means that the stomach lining you have today is different from the one you had last week!
The History of Sauerkraut
Fermenting cabbage increases its vitamin C content. Sauerkraut was used historically on Dutch naval ships to prevent scurvy. Although associated with Germany and Eastern Europe, it was not first discovered there. Sauerkraut was eaten in China back about 2,000 years ago around the time that the Great Wall of China was being built. It is thought that it was brought to Eastern Europe by Genghis Kahn around 1000 A.D, and eventually was introduced to Germany. Forms of fermented cabbage are eaten in many countries including Russia and in France in the Alsatian dish (choucroute garnie) and is a big part of Korean cuisine in the form of Kimchi.
Now sauerkraut is not just a topping for sausages at the ball game, it can be part of a healthy meal. Here are some ideas for cooking with sauerkraut:
- Casseroles with ground beef or sausage
- Apple-Sauerkraut Pork Chops
- Spare Ribs with sauerkraut
- Or if you are not a big meat-eater try a casserole with red potatoes and cheese
- Sauerkraut as a side dish with salad or mashed potatoes
Want to Make Your Own?
If you are more adventurous and want to try making your own fermented cabbage, click on the links below for some step-by-step instructions.
Let us know how you do! We love getting feedback. Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too via the commentluv feature here on the site.