Nowadays fermented food plays important role in improving food quality, food security, and enhancing livelihood. The fermentation especially the fermented vegetables may be affected by some groups of microorganisms. The nature character of vegetable has been paved way for their fermentation due to any enzymatic, bacterial, or even fungal activities. Usually the vegetable is preserved through some methods including salting and fermentation and the process is related to the types of vegetable.
Although many types of vegetable can be fermented, the only popular fermented vegetable product is just the sauerkraut made from cabbage, other ingredients that well known of fermented vegetable including cucumber pickle and olives. The name Sauerkraut itself derived from Germany word which translated as sour cabbage and it is widely consume by many people especially in Europe and United States.
History Of Sauerkraut
History mentioned that fermented cabbage has been consumed by people for more than centuries. It is believed that the type of fermented cabbage is originated from China, and some literature also said that the workers who built the Great wall also consume it. Then later the fermented cabbage travel to Europe and it is known that Romanian soldiers ate the fermented cabbage or sauerkraut to prevent disease along their voyage.
The famous captain James Cook that travel around the world during 1770 must be thankful for the sauerkraut since it can really helpful to prevent scurvy and the Captain took the sauerkraut along with him on board.
Sauerkraut contains several potential nutrients such as Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and kalium. By containing lots of nutrients, it bring many health benefits to human body. Below are the list of Sauerkraut nutrient content
- Cholesterol 0mg 2%
- Sodium 740mg 31%
- Carbohydrate 5g 2%
- Dietary Fiber 3g 13%
- Sugars 1g
- Protein 1g
- Vitamin A 0%
- Vitamin C 25%
- Calcium 4%
- Iron 10%
Health Benefits of sauerkraut
Sauerkraut offer many health benefits since it made from cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage but some sauerkraut also made from cauliflowers, and brussel sprouts. The benefits of sauerkraut comes from the probiotic benefits which derived from the fermentation process since sauerkraut contain some lactic acid bacteria that is side product of the sauerkraut pickling process. Below are the list of sauerkraut benefits which you should know
1. Promote healthy digestion
Sauerkraut made from cabbage or other vegetable that contains dietary fiber. This fiber will significantly promote the function of digestion tract and bowel movement. Sauerkraut also contains good bacteria or probiotic which is beneficial to digestion. The good bacteria in sauerkraut will help in defecation process and prevent the gut from developing infection or ulcer due to the pathogen bacteria.
2. Fight inflammation
According to study, sauerkraut which is produced from cabbage contains anti-inflammatory properties that can enhance the inflammatory response and fighting inflammation that occur inside the body. Study also show that the lactic acid bacteria inside the sauerkraut is effective in fighting the infection of several pathogen bacteria which cause inflammation inside the human body.
3. Reduce cholesterol
The fiber content of sauerkraut can reduce cholesterol and help to get rid the bad cholesterol within the body. During digestion process the cholesterol that consumed along the food will be bound by the fiber and prevent it to be absorbed into the blood.
4. Prevent cancer
It is reported that sauerkraut contains some flavonoid properties which acts as antioxidand and prevent the body from oxidative stress which is caused by free radicals. The free radicals that enter the body will cause oxidative stress that lead to DNA damage. This DNA damage later will cause abnormal cell proliferation and causing cancer. This is why consuming sauerkraut regularly is helpful to prevent and fight cancer.
5. Prevent scurvy
Remember the Roman sailors which travel around the world by bringing the sauerkraut together with them and they never caught by certain disease such as scurvy. Sauerkrait contains scurvy since it contains Vitamin C that is helpful in fighting bacteria infection inside mouth and maintain healthy gum and oral health.
6. Prevent atherosclerosis
Sauerkraut contains fiber that is effective to prevent cholesterol accumulation within the arteries wall. Consuming sauerkraut regularly will give many benefits including maintaining healthy blood vessel, prevent it from atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. Prevent constipation
Due to its fiber content, sauerkraut is a great food to prevent constipation. The fiber content of sauerkraut will help the bowel movement and bulk into stool which will make the feces formation easier and the body could eliminate it well from the digestive tract.
8. Prevent ulcer
The lactic acid bacteria which comes along the fermentation process of sauerkraut can suppress the Helycobacter pylori growth inside stomach. This bacteria can infected the stomach and causing ulcer. Consuming sauerkraut is save but remember if you have any stomach ulcer disease especially chronic one, you should eat it under doctor allowance since the acid in sauerkraut can also causing problem within your stomach.
9. Maintain healthy bones
Sauerkraut contains calcium which beneficial in maintain healthy and strong bones. The calcium contents of sauerkraut may contributes in maintaining the bone mass density and prevent it from losing its mineral known as osteoporosis.
10. Prevent diabetes
Sauerkraut is salty food and it contains fiber that can stabilizing the blood sugar level within the body. Consuming sauerkraut will not causing blood sugar fluctuation and it is great food that can prevent the body from developing diabetes.
11. Prevent anemia
Sauerkraut contains iron, a mineral which is required in red blood cells formation. Without iron, the body can’t produce new red blood cells and it will causing poor oxygen and nutrients transport that known as anemia. Consuming sauerkraut regularly may prevent you from getting anemia that makes you weak and reducing your productivity.
12. Maintain healthy skin
Sauerkraut contains Vitamin C that can help in maintain healthy skin. The vitamin C is a substance that can promote the production of collagen which keep skin firmness and young.
How To make Sauerkraut?
If you are not familiar with sauerkraut and don’t have any idea how to make it, check the tips below on how to make sauerkraut
a. Process of Before Fermentation
- Cut off the outer leaves of the cabbage then later cut out the middle part. The middle layer is the hard part without any layers in it
- Slice the cabbage as thin as possible with a serrated knife to produce best textures of sauerkraut
- Take the sliced cabbage in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl such as grated beetroot, ginger, carrot, salt, flakes, spices, garlic, salt approximately 1 tablespoon of salt per small cabbage
- Mix all the ingredients with your hands and squeeze the mixture then you can leave the mixture after a good hard squeeze and then mix it again for around 10-20 minutes to allow the cabbage to produce more liquid.
- Then place the mixture inside a jar and keep it with tight cover. Left the sauerkraut to ferment in about 3 weeks within normal temperatures.
b. Fermentation Stage
In the making of sauerkraut, in order to be a success, the process must go through three specific stages of fermentation.that are
- Stage One
Leuconostoc mesenteroides bacteria will initiate sauerkraut fermentation and this bacteria will produce carbon dioxide that slowly will replace the oxygen content within the jar. Later this bacteria will produce enzyme and they will die of fermentation process. On this stage, the lactic acids will reach 25
- Stage Two
Other groups of bacteria that are Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus cucumeris will continue the fermentation process until lactic acid level of 1.5-2% is attained. Must be remember that excessive salting will inhibit this bacteria activities and remember to not put it in fridge during this stage. This stage will take 10 to 30 days depending on the room temperature.
- Stage Three
Other bacteria the Lactobacillus brevis or Lactobacillus pentoaceticus will finish off the fermentation process and when the lactic acid level reaches 2-2.5%, it means the bacteria have reach their max growth and the fermentation process is over. This final stage will lasts for less than a week. You must know when when sauerkraut contains no more bubbles on the sides or top of your jar it means that your sauerkraut is ready to consumed or to be stored for long-term storage even for several months.
During the making of Sauerkraut, some spoilage may occur and they are listed below
- Softness, the soft textures of sauerkraut usually due to from insufficient salt, high temperatures, untight cover or if you make it from cabbage that is not crisp.
- Pink color in sauerkraut may caused by the growth of several types of yeasts on the surface of the sauerkraut. These may caused by too much salt, or unefficient cover during fermentation process. But the pigment of this pink color is not harmful at all.
- Rotted sauerkraut is usually found on the cabbage which on the surface, where the cabbage and it caused due to imperfect covering during dermentation process.
- Darkness in sauerkraut may rised if you don’t wash the cabbage properly before making kraut, high temperatures, exposure to air and etc. Usually the darkness color of kraut rise after long time storage and came as long as the time of storage. Finally if you hesitate and not sure about the safety of your kraut better throw it out.
Sauerkraut is a superfood but remember to not consume it excessively since it can cause some side effect due to the presence of some probiotic bacteria. It can cause mild diarrhea, nausea and other digestive problem. People with high blood pressure or hypertension also should consult health care provider before consume sauerkraut since its a salty food with high level of sodium. Always remember to eat well and get the benefits of sauerkraut which you can easily made at home.