June 15, 2016
I’ve always been a big fan of sauerkraut. But recently I fell into the lacto-fermented veggie bandwagon, which meant swapping out the traditional jarred sauerkraut for the raw variety, and I haven’t looked back since! One of the main health benefits of unpasteurized, raw sauerkraut is the positive impact it has on our gut health.
Maintaining a healthy digestive system involves several factors, but a very important factor is keeping a balance of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. One role of that bacteria is to feed on digestive leftovers (aka waste) and in-turn produce lactic acid, which promotes a more acidic environment that’s necessary for helping fight off harmful bacteria and pathogens that enter our bodies on a daily basis. The use of antibiotics, some medications, and certain lifestyle factors can disturb our gut bacteria balance. This can cause unpleasant issues such as decreased immunity and digestive discomfort.
Many people turn to foods or supplements that contain probiotics to help replenish that bacteria balance. And when it comes to food sources of probiotics, most of us go straight for yogurt as the first option.
But fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi have been gaining tremendous popularity lately, and with good reason. They’re lactose-free probiotic alternatives perfect for those who can’t or don’t consume dairy products. Probiotics in these foods are the result of a process called lacto-fermentation, which is a method of preserving foods like fruits and vegetables without actually cooking them. It’s a process that’s been around for thousands of years, but since we rely less on preserved foods and have different processes for preservation these days, lacto-fermentation has only recently started making a major comeback.
Why choose raw sauerkraut over the jarred variety?
Raw sauerkraut has a higher content of vitamins and minerals along with the benefit of probiotics that you won’t find in the jarred or canned variety. That’s because traditional jarred sauerkraut loses much of its nutritional value since nutrients and probiotics are damaged by the heating and canning/jarring process, so much of the nutrition is lost. Since the raw version isn't heated, the nutrients and probiotics remain in-tact.
How it tastes, and how incorporate it in your daily meals
Raw sauerkraut usually comes in a bag, not a jar. And you’ll want to be careful to not lay that bag on its side because it will leak! That’s because it’s been packed in a special package that keeps out the oxygen but has a tiny vent that lets out excess gas produced by the fermentation process.
It still has that tangy pickled flavor, but in my opinion is milder than the kind you buy in a jar. It’s the perfect addition to sandwiches or wraps, served over grilled meat, or on a salad.
If you’d like to try raw sauerkraut, this orange-maple chicken with roasted sweet potato and sauerkraut is a tasty way to get started!
Have you tried raw sauerkraut or other fermented veggies? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to enjoy these probiotic-rich fermented delights!