Sauerkraut, one of the better known members of the probiotics food group, is a very cost effective medicinal food. It gives most any dish a tasty zing and keeps your digestion and immunity humming along.
Cabbage is already a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, manganese, beta carotene and other antioxidants. A member of the cruciferous family, it is credited for fighting cancer, high cholesterol and inflammation. Now lacto-ferment it (and start calling it “sauerkraut”), and the nutrient profile gets even better. Developed centuries ago, the natural pickling process of vegetables allows for long term storage, and increases the vitamin content, adds digestive enzymes and probiotics and makes many nutrients easier to absorb.
Early civilizations from China to Europe relied on it for its health benefits. Many long ocean voyages packed barrels of sauerkraut to keep their sailors healthy. It is said that Captain Cook protected his crew from scurvy death with sixty barrels of kraut.
Unfortunately, its foreign name and the suggestion of something sour has not done wonders for its modern day reputation. If you’ve found sauerkraut reluctance is keeping you from optimal health, here’s a recipe, based on a popular Dutch dish, zuurkool stamppot met worst, which smooths out kraut’s rougher edges, and offers a gentle entry into the healthful world of fermented vegetables.
Kraut-Potatoes with Sausage