Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Sauerkraut is a very old method of preserving cabbage by salting and fermenting.  This is particularly popular in Germany, but has also got a long history of use in many parts of the world.

Fermented vegetables have been an important source of nourishment since prehistoric times.  Archaeologists have discovered fermented plant foods were consumed by prehistoric hunter gatherers.  The Chinese have used sauerkraut juice as a cure for many ailments since 200 BC.  The Romans carried barrels of sauerkraut on their long excursions, and Genghis Khan is said to have taken it to Europe in the 13th century.

Health Benefits

There are many health benefits to be derived from eating Sauerkraut :
  • The fibre and lactic acid bacteria improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora
  • Protects against many diseases of the digestive tract
  • low in calories
  • high in vitamin C.  It was used in the 18th century on long sea voyages to prevent scurvy in sailors
  • The fermentation of cabbage produces compounds called isothiocyanates which have been shown to protect against cancer.

How to make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is quite easy to make at home.  The basic method is to finely shredd cabbage, then pack it into a glass jar or crock and sprinkle sea salt between the layers.

The salt draws juice out of the cabbage and the resulitng brine allows the cabbage to gently ferment, creating beneficial lactobacilli.

If you are interested in making your own sauerkraut, there are many websites that will show you how.  One of the best can be found here where you will find step by step instructions and illustrations.

Of course you don't have to make your own to enjoy the benefits of sauerkraut.  It's readily available in most stores, however you do need to be careful when choosing which brand to buy.

Most canned sauerkraut is pasteurized and lacks the friendly bacterial cultures that makes this so healthy.  Some brands even contain vinegar to make the sauerkraut appear fermented, so don't be fooled.  Check the brands that are available in the dairy case.  These are often your best choice.

How to use Sauerkraut

Many people shy away from eating sauerkraut because they have no idea how to use it.  

One traditional way it is often served in Germany is as a side dish with grilled sausages.  

Another is the famous Reuben sandwich served in most delis. You can make a Paleo friendly version by using my bread recipe.

Just toast the bread and spread with Russian dressing.  Cover with a layer of sauerkraut, a generous layer of corned beef, and a slice of swiss cheese.  Place under the broiler until the cheese has melted.  Serve with dill pickles.

Russian Dressing

Ingredients :

-  3/4 cup of home-made mayonnaise
-  2 tablespoons of sour cream
-  2 teaspoons of chopped parsley
-  1 tablespoon minced onion
-  1 tablespoon minced dill pickle
-  1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
-  1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish
-  1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions :

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Best if you refrigerate at least an hour before using and allow all the flavours to mix.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

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