After a little European trip last year, I have definitely been buying and eating more sauerkraut and have been contemplating making some myself recently.
Sauerkraut has been consumed by the Germans, Poles and French for a long time, paired most often with sausages and other meat.
So what is it? Fermented cabbage. Yum. Sauerkraut is made by lactic fermentation, using only the natural bacteria and yeasts present on the cabbage with a bit of salt to kick-off the process.
Cabbage itself contains natural isothiocyanate compounds, which have been found to display anti-carcinogenic activity (cancer-fighting). Isothiocyanates reduce activation of carcinogens and increase their detoxification (Wu, 2009 in Nature).
When made into sauerkraut, the cabbage becomes full of Lactobacillus bacteria – the beneficial one found in live yoghurt and other products. Sauerkraut, in fact, contains more healthy bacteria than live yoghurt, increasing the healthy flora in the gut. This means that it aids digestion and keeps the immune system fighting fit.
Because sauerkraut needs nothing more than cabbage and salt, avoid buying brands with added chemical preservatives. A lot of the processing that goes into making it for supermarket shelves actually destroys much of the goodness.
Add to a salad or pair with meat – the tanginess cuts deliciously through a fattier dish. They do it well in Munich with a simple grilled sausage and half a plate of sauerkraut – ideal.