Sauerkraut is a popular vegan cabbage-based food often used as a topping on vegan hot-dogs and sandwiches. But what is sauerkraut? Is it healthy? How do you make it? Where did it originate? Totally Vegan Buzz brings you the ultimate guide to sauerkraut.
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a tangy dish made from fermented cabbage used mainly as a condiment. It is considered a health food as it is made from cabbage.
Sauerkraut has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavour and is popular across the globe.
What is the history of sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut originated in China and was later taken to Europe. Nearly 2000 years ago, slaves building the Great Wall of China lived on cabbage and rice. The cabbage was preserved with rice wine, which gave it a tangy flavour.
Sauerkraut has a rich history in eastern European cuisines and is popular food in France, where it is called choucroute, and the Netherlands, where it is referred to as zuurkool. The famous name sauerkraut is derived from German, meaning sour cabbage.
How do I make sauerkraut at home?
It is fairly simple to make sauerkraut at home with just two ingredients- cabbage and salt. Sauerkraut is made by pickling cabbage through a process called lactic acid fermentation. There are more than 100 different varieties of cabbage in the world. Heirloom varieties like golden acre and brunswick are considered best for preparing sauerkraut.
The process involves finely shredding the cabbage and then adding salt. The mixture is rubbed until juice starts to come out of the cabbage, and the mixture feels wet. This mixture is them allowed to sit for a few days at room temperature, ideally away from direct sunlight. Meanwhile, the cabbage releases its own brine to help fermentation. The end result is a tangy juicy sauerkraut.
Is sauerkraut vegan?
Yes, sauerkraut is made using all plant based ingredients. No animal products are used in preparation.
What does sauerkraut taste like?
Sauerkraut means ‘sour cabbage’ in German and has a tangy flavour and a strong smell. Most ready made varieties have additional ingredients and can have a varied flavour.
What are the health benefits of sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut has various health benefits as it is made through the process of fermentation. Physician John Jay Terrell was reportedly able to reduce the death rate from smallpox amongst prisoners during the American Civil War from 90% to just 5%.
Other health benefits include:
- Improves digestion due to probiotic properties: Research claims the bacteria born during fermentation improves digestive health and aids in reducing symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
- Provides cancer-fighting antioxidants: The main ingredient of sauerkraut, cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable considered a powerful cancer fighting food.
- Source of vital nutrients: Sauerkraut is a low calorie food rich in calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and folate. It is a good source of dietary fibre.
What happens when you eat too much sauerkraut?
Even though sauerkraut is a healthy food, excessive consumption may exceed recommended daily salt limits. This may lead to bloating, diarrhoea and intestinal gas.
Where to buy sauerkraut?
How to use sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut has a salty, umami flavour. It is mainly used as a condiment or topping, such as on vegan hotdogs and salads.
It can also be used for filling in sandwiches, quesadilla and wraps, or as a flavour enhancer for dishes like tacos or patties. Many people also add a splash of sauerkraut brine to their versions of vegan recipes to give a new dimension to the flavour.
Do you make your own sauerkraut or buy the ready made ones? How do you like to use it in various dishes? Let us know in comments section below!
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