Sauerkraut or also known as sour cabbage is in the group of fermented or pickled foods and its consumption dates from the Roman Empire.
It originated from somewhere in China and later on spread in other countries. Sauerkraut is in fact raw cabbage which has been fermented.
Fermented foods are also incredibly convenient, because they can stay fresh for a longer period, unlike the raw vegetables. Many cultures use it as a main dish and some of them as a side dish.
Many find its taste sour and bitter, but with the right preparation and bearing in mind its enormous health benefits, you can also find a great pleasure in its consumption.
How can you prepare sauerkraut?
It`s extremely easy to prepare sauerkraut. You only need raw cabbage and salt, and when the natural sugars are fermented, it forms lactic acid, which in fact gives the sourness of the sauerkraut.
Try to find fresh cabbage and use sea salt or canning salt for best possible results.
Follow the given steps and you will get a perfect sauerkraut:
Remove all the damaged leaves from the cabbage and slice it into pieces. Don`t wash the cabbage because you will need the natural bacteria which are found in the leaves.
Use glass or ceramic containers for storage of the sauerkraut.
Add salt to the shreds: some prefer to add 3 tablespoons to 5 pounds of cabbage, but you can also do it by your taste. The salt helps to pull out the water from the cabbage, hardens pectins and provides a longer period of storage.
Squeeze the cabbage with your fingers, in order to help it release as much water as possible.
Use a heavy object to weigh down the cabbage, so it will release much more water, and hold it like that for a longer period.
After a few hours, check the container, if there isn`t enough water to cover the shreds, then probably you need to add more salt (dissolve one teaspoon in a bowl of water and add it to the cabbage).
Cover the container with something, in order to prevent dust or insect entering.
Keep it in a cool place from 4 to 6 weeks and give it time to ferment. After a while, check the cabbage just to see if it`s to your taste, if not, keep it a little bit longer. Cooler areas provide better effects.
Your sauerkraut is ready for consumption! If you want the fermentation to stop, put the container in the fridge.
Some find this process of fermentation similar to the process of making pickles or kimchi. During the fermentation process, we don`t heat it, in order to prevent destroying the useful bacteria.
Health benefits of sauerkraut
Even though we can benefit mostly from raw vegetables, we shouldn`t overlook the fact that fermentation is the key process for putting sauerkraut into the list of health boosters. During fermentation, natural bacteria are produced and this is extremely beneficial for your intestinal flora.
Also, sauerkraut is a potent antioxidant, rich in vitamin C in particular and minerals, due to the presence of vitamin K, it helps you promote skin and vision health, it protects you from certain cancer, reduces the cholesterol levels, strengthens bones, it boosts your energy, betters circulation and reduces or totally eliminates inflammation.
Improves digestion: Raw cabbage is famous for its high fiber content, which is crucial when it comes to better digestive health. Sauerkraut is also known for this property. It helps with constipation, better bowel movement, prevents cramping and bloating. If we take care of our digestive system regularly, we will also prevent some serious diseases such as colon cancer and gastric ulcer.
Boosts energy: The presence of iron increases the body`s energy, circulation and metabolism and it also increases blood flow. Sauerkraut has high levels of iron and prevents from anemia, helps with fatigue and headaches.
Boosts the immune system: Sauerkraut is rich in vitamin C, which is the key vitamin for improving and boosting your immune system. Sauerkraut provides you with 35% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. The presence of this vitamin has a great role in the regeneration ofcells, production of white blood cells and formation of collagen (important component for almost every organ).
Strengths bones: Sauerkraut provides you with almost 23% of the recommended dose for vitamin K. This vitamin is not so common in vegetables and therefore the ability to strengths bones and prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin K maintains the strength of bones by producing a protein which regulates bone mineralization.
Reduces inflammation: Sauerkraut contains phytonutrient antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory agents. Sauerkraut consumption reduces the pain in any inflamed area.
Prevents cancer: All the cruciferous vegetables are potent antioxidants and according to some researches, this property can have an impact on the cancerous cells. The potent antioxidants eliminate free radicals, which are crucial in the formation of cancerous cells.
Improves heart health: The fiber that we`ve previously mentioned is not only good for digestion health, but it also helps your heart. Fiber prevents cholesterol from affecting the arteries and blood vessels, therefore preventing heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
Promotes vision and skin health: Vitamin A has been proven to be extremely beneficial when it comes to vision and skin health. Sauerkraut contains vitamin A as well as few carotenes which are in the group of antioxidants, famous for eliminating free radicals from your system. It reduces macular degeneration, cataract formation. Moreover, it promotes skin health, reduces blemishes, slows down the appearance of wrinkles and keeps your skin young and natural.
It`s up to you to choose in which way you will consume sauerkraut. In order to take a full advantage of this recipe, try not to fry it or overcook it because you may lose some of the important nutrients. Consume it fresh, preferably and don`t worry if during the fermentation process mold appears, just remove it as soon as you spot it and enjoy your sauerkraut.