Sauerkraut, a fermented food that’s been made in Europe for hundreds of years, is making a comeback. Sought after for its health giving properties, it’s delicious and super simple to make. Made from health-giving cabbage, the process of fermentation produces live and active probiotics that are great for the health of your digestive tract — and the rest of your body too.
Probiotics: why fermented foods are so good for you
The health of your immune system actually depends on the health of your gut, which is maintained by bacterial organisms or “your gut bugs” that live within your intestinal flora. Having an imbalance in your gut microbes is linked to a range of diseases. If you’re regularly consuming sugar, processed foods, caffeine and alcohol and so called ‘junk foods’ you’ll like have upset your gut’s healthy internal balance. Luckily you can counter the effects of an imbalanced diet by eating probiotic foods. This is where sauerkraut comes in!
The gut bugs in sauerkraut take up residence on the lining and folds of your intestinal walls, where they act as your first line of defense against various harmful bacteria or toxins that enter your body. Having a healthy gut can assist with everything from digestive trouble like colitis and IBS, to mood disorders like depression and anxiety, to obesity and weight gain and various metabolic and autoimmune conditions.
According to loads of research, probiotic rich food can help:
- Improve immune function, creating a barrier against potential invaders including “bad bacteria” like pathogens, viruses, fungi and parasites
- Digestion and the absorption of various nutrients
- Detoxify the body, helping prevent infections and combating toxins living within your digestive tract
- Support brain function and cognitive health, even helping to prevent dementia, and stave off memory loss
- Handle stress through the “gut-brain” connection, your microflora’s effects on your endocrine (hormonal) system
- Control inflammation that is the root of most diseases.
Super simple sauerkraut recipe
There are literally dozens of sauerkraut recipes out there. Here is a Polish recipe from the healthy chef Therese Cutter, that is super simple and is a great way to try your hand at fermenting. It has two ingredients and takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
You will need:
- 1 kilo of savoy cabbage, washed
- 1 tablespoon of good quality sea salt (I use Himalayan)
- 2 sterilised bottling jars (an old jam jar will also do!)
Chop or grate the cabbage finely. Weigh it and measure out the salt. Rub the salt into the cabbage for about 15 minutes. As you massage the cabbage it softens and releases water. Pack the sauerkraut into your sterilised jars, pressing down as you go. The cabbage should be covered by the liquid you’ve created. Seal and place in a dark cupboard at room temperature for about a week. Refrigerate and enjoy.
As you pack the jars, you can add peppercorns, mustard or corianders seeds, or black pepper to the mix for flavour.
If you don’t create enough liquid make up a salt water mixture of 15 g of sea salt to 1 liter of water and add a little of it to the crock-pot only if necessary.
Serve a small spoonful of sauerkraut as a healthy and tasty condiment with your meals.
Next time: Kimchi!