Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish that is a traditional part of German and Eastern European cuisine. It has very long roots in German, Russian and Chinese cuisine, dating back 2,000 years or more. Sauerkraut actually means “sour cabbage” in German.
To make sauerkraut, finely shredded cabbage is mixed with salt and then left to ferment in airtight containers for several weeks or months. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria naturally present on the cabbage consume the sugars in the cabbage, producing lactic acid and creating a sour, tangy flavor. Sauerkraut can be eaten as a side dish, used as a topping for sandwiches and hot dogs, or incorporated into various recipes. It is also known for its high fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B contents and its probiotic benefits for gut health.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can have numerous health benefits when consumed. The probiotics in sauerkraut come from the beneficial bacteria that are produced during the fermentation process. Some potential benefits of sauerkraut’s probiotics include improved digestion and enhanced immune functions.
It’s important to note that while sauerkraut is a good source of probiotics, the exact types and amounts of beneficial bacteria can vary depending on factors like the fermentation process and storage conditions.
Store-bought sauerkraut is not always fermented, especially the canned or processed kind. Most commercial brands of sauerkraut are made by shredding cabbage, mixing it with salt, and then allowing it to ferment in large containers for a period of time. However, some brands may use vinegar or other methods to create a sour flavor instead of fermentation. It’s always a good idea to read the label or ingredient list to make sure that you’re getting a fermented sauerkraut if that’s what you’re looking for. Additionally, homemade sauerkraut is also a great option if you want to ensure that it is fermented and free from any additional additives or preservatives. Traditional, fermented sauerkraut needs to be refrigerated, is usually stored in glass jars and says that it is fermented on the package/label.