Vegetable fermentation has gotten a bad reputation over the years. People see it as unsafe, dangerous even, and are scared off as a result. Even sauerkraut, probably one of the most popular fermented vegetables, is looked at with a crooked, questioning eye.

Let’s try to assuage these preconceptions and leave put these fears to rest. There a number of studies that show sauerkraut to have a whole host of beneficial bacteria and nutrients that help stave off a variety of illnesses. It’s delicious, easy to make, and simple to incorporate into all sorts of meals. Give it a try, and you might find yourself exploring other fermented food avenues

Sauerkraut History

Sauerkraut is German for, literally, “sour cabbage”. Not the most attractive name for a food, but informative, nonetheless. Contrary to this, though, sauerkraut is thought to orginiate in China over 2,000 years ago. Chinese laborers subsisted off of it in making the Great Wall of China. They made there version of sauerkraut from cabbage and rice wine.

Gengis Kahn is believed to have brought it over to Europe 1,000 years later. Once introduced, Germany began to make it using salt rather than rice wine to make their version of sauerkraut. Sauerkraut then became a staple of sea faring ships, as it stay stable without refrigeration for months on end. With moderate levels of vitamin C, it helped to fight off scurvy, as well.

Sauerkraut Health Benefits

The main health benefit from sauerkraut is the lactic acid bacteria that develops during the fermentation process. This bacteria is said to have seemingly magical effects on your gastrointestinal system from assisting in food digestion, to cleansing, to inhibiting cancer. The fermentation process produces isothiocynates, which help fight colon, lung, liver, and in particular, breast cancer. During the second week of fermentation or so, a strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus plantar. This helps fight against diseases such as IBS, bad E-coli, salmonella, and candida.   

Sauerkraut also reduces bowel inflammation, reduces constipation, assists in lactose digestion, and helps generate omega-3 fatty acids. 

Making Sauerkraut 

By now, you’re surely convinced that sauerkraut will have positive effects on your health. Rather than going to store and buying over priced sauerkraut in too-small-jars, try making it yourself in the kitchen. It’s incredibly easy, and will likely have more beneficial bacteria and be more nutrient dense than the stuff you can buy at the store. 

Produces: 1 Gallon 

Ready To Eat In 1 – 4 weeks 

Ingredients 

3 tablespoons sea or pickling salt (do not use iodized salt) 

5 pounds cabbage (Green, Red, or both) 

1 plastic bucket 

1 gallon jug filled with water 

1 piece of cloth (enough to cover the plastic bucket) 

Preparation 

1.)   Chop cabbage to desired thickness, excluding the hearts. 

2.)   Place a layer of cabbage in the large bowl or bucket. Sprinkle salt onto cabbage. Push the cabbage down with considerable force. It’s important to make sure it’s compact. Add another layer of cabbage. Add more salt. Tamp down. Repeat until all the cabbage is 1 inch from the brim. 

3.)   Cover with piece of cloth and place jug of water (or some other weight) on top of the cloth, pushing down directly on the cabbage. Every few hours, push down the weight, working the liquid out of the cabbage (this creates the brine that will preserve it). If you don’t see brine coming up above the cabbage when compressed, add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water, stir, and dump over the top. Place the container in a dark, cool area (in a dark corner, in the basement, etc.) 

4.)   Check the sauerkraut every day or so. It should be slowly reducing in volume, as the cabbage shrinks over time. Some mold will form on the top layer. This is completely harmless, even if accidently consumed. Simply scrape it off and put aside for the compost bin. 

5.)   The sauerkraut will last months if kept at a cool temperature and out of direct light. Keep a jar in your refrigerator, to make it more readily accessible.