Sauerkraut. When I think of this delicious food, my mouth starts to water. I’ve always been a fan of sauerkraut. Even when I was little one of my favorite meals included sauerkraut, which was pork ribs covered in sauerkraut and baked to perfection. Imagine my luck when I married into a German family! They made homemade sauerkraut! It was the best stuff I had ever eaten. Seriously! It was a family tradition that they kept going, and we hope that we can pass down to our kids, too.
Just recently we have been researching the benefits that raw sauerkraut has to offer. My father-in-law was always researching what foods were best for us and how to prepare them so we could benefit better from them. He suffered from a blood disease that he fought for over 10 years before he passed. Jim always tried to serve God the best way he could, and one of the ways was being an organic farmer. Today I’m sharing what we’ve learned about sauerkraut, including how to make the raw fermented version, its health benefits, and some yummy recipes for using it in your everyday life.
The Difference Between Raw & Canned Sauerkraut
First of all, what is sauerkraut? It is fermented cabbage.
What is the difference between raw kraut and canned kraut? Well, there are several differences. Raw sauerkraut has so many health benefits, whereas canned only has a few. Raw sauerkraut does not go through a heating process like the canned kraut. After the cabbage is fermented, it is stuffed into glass jars with a lid and put in the fridge where it will keep for several months. Canned kraut, on the other hand, is heated and then stuffed into hot jars and processed (cooked) in a canner. The canned kraut loses most of its benefits because of the high heat temperatures that it goes through. The taste and color of the kraut is a little different, too. Raw kraut seems to be a little more sour and green in color, and the canned kraut is a little sweeter and more yellow in color.
What’s in Raw Kraut?
Raw sauerkraut has probiotics in it, which are really good for your digestive system. Probiotics is a Greek word meaning “promoting life.” Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. The microorganisms basically feed the good bacteria in your gut to help the digestive tract digest food and keep you healthy. 70% of your immune system is found in your gut, so you want to make sure you are eating things that help promote a healthy digestive system, and sauerkraut is one of the best ways to do it. The raw kraut also contains vitamins K, C, & B, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium.
7 benefits of raw sauerkraut:
1. Supplies probiotics that help improve digestion.
2. Improves immune function.
3. Reduces inflammation and allergies.
4. Protects cognitive health.
5. Can help you handle stress and improve your mood.
6. Beneficial weight loss/maintenance.
7. Provides cancer fighting antioxidants.
You only need to eat a couple of tablespoons daily. It is high in sodium so you want to be careful to not eat too much. Eating a little sauerkraut is better than not eating any at all.
How to Make Sauerkraut
Here is a good website to read about how to make sauerkraut. My family and I, however, make big batches so we let our cabbage ferment in a crock. We only use canning salt, not sea salt, because we feel it tastes better. While some recipes call for it, we do not use caraway seed or add anything else, just cabbage and salt. We also found you do not need to add extra water if you stomp the cabbage well enough. Here is a good youtube video to watch, also. There are so many variations that you can do. Just get an idea of how you want to make it and go for it! You can also ferment several different vegetables. You can add them to your kraut or ferment them separately. Your imagination is your limit.
How Do You Incorporate More Sauerkraut in Your Diet?
I have found some recipes for raw kraut that are delicious. My family and I enjoy them, so give them a try!
Courtesy Marlene Beenken
2 ½ cups raw kraut (or 1 can kraut)
¾ Cup sugar
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red pepper or green pepper
¼ cup diced onion
3 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. Keeps for several weeks.
Courtesy Nancy Monat
Mix mayo & chilli sauce. (Approximately ⅓ cup mayo & 1-2 tablespoons of chilli sauce.) For each sandwich, use 2 or 3 slices of beef, 1 slice of cheese, & 2-3 tablespoons of sauerkraut. Butter outside of bread. Spoon on sauce & layer rest of ingredients. Grill, not too fast, as to warm all inside ingredients.
For more information on raw sauerkraut and some yummy recipes, check out these resources!