Sauerkraut (pron.: //; German pronunciation: [ˈzaʊ.ɐˌkʁaʊt] ( listen)), directly translated: "sour cabbage", is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. Coleslaw, an unfermented dish made from fresh cabbage, may also be made with an acidic taste, but is otherwise quite different.
Producing sauerkraut 
Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers and kimchi are made. The cabbage is finely shredded, layered with salt and left to ferment. Fully cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at 15 °C (60 °F) or below. Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments prolong storage life.
Fermentation by lactobacilli is introduced naturally, as these air-borne bacteria culture on raw cabbage leaves where they grow. Yeasts also are present, and may yield soft sauerkraut of poor flavor when the fermentation temperature is too high. The fermentation process has three phases, collectively sometimes referred to as population dynamics. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acidic environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species, including L. brevis and L. plantarum, ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH Properly cured sauerkraut is sufficiently acidic to prevent a favorable environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the toxins of which cause botulism.
A 2004 genomic study found an unexpectedly large diversity of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut, and that previous studies had oversimplified this diversity. Weissella was found to be a major organism in the initial, heterofermentative stage, up to day 7. It was also found that Lactobacillus brevis and Pediococcus pentosaceus had smaller population numbers in the first 14 days than previous studies had reported.
The Dutch sauerkraut industry found that inoculating a new batch of sauerkraut with an old batch resulted in an excessively sour product. This sourdough process is known as "backslopping" or "inoculum enrichment"; when used in making sauerkraut, first- and second-stage population dynamics, important to developing flavor, are bypassed. This is due primarily to the greater initial activity of species L. plantarum.
Impact on health 
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||78 kJ (19 kcal)|
|- Sugars||1.8 g|
|- Dietary fibre||2.9 g|
|Vitamin B6||0.13 mg (10%)|
|Vitamin C||15 mg (18%)|
|Iron||1.5 mg (12%)|
|Sodium||661 mg (44%)|
|Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Many health benefits have been claimed for sauerkraut.
- It is extremely high in vitamins C, B, and K; the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage. It is also low in calories and high in calcium and magnesium, and it is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
- If unpasteurized and uncooked, sauerkraut also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes. The fiber and supply of probiotics improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract.
- Sauerkraut has been used in Europe for centuries to treat stomach ulcers, and its effectiveness for soothing the digestive tract has been well established by numerous studies.
- During the American Civil War, the physician John Jay Terrell (1829–1922) was able to successfully reduce the death rate among prisoners of war from disease; he attributed this to the practice of feeding his patients raw sauerkraut.
- Sauerkraut is a time-honored folk remedy for canker sores. It is used by rinsing the mouth with sauerkraut juice for about 30 seconds several times a day, or by placing a wad of sauerkraut against the affected area for a minute or so before chewing and swallowing the kraut.
- The October 23, 2002 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that Finnish researchers found the isothiocyanates produced in sauerkraut fermentation inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test tube and animal studies. A Polish study in 2010 concluded that "... induction of the key detoxifying enzymes by cabbage juices, particularly sauerkraut, may be responsible for their chemopreventive activity demonstrated by epidemiological studies and in animal models".
- Sauerkraut is high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both associated with preserving ocular health.
- Sauerkraut is also a source of biogenic amines, such as tyramine, which may cause adverse reactions in sensitive people. Uncooked cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage) can aggravate thyroid problems and no studies have investigated the impact of fermentation on this effect, so patients experiencing goiters or other thyroid problems should consult their physician before adding large amounts of sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice to their diets.
In order to enjoy optimal health benefits from eating cabbage, one must eat raw, unpasteurized cabbage.
Versions of sauerkraut appeared in China as far back as 2,000 years ago, and the Roman writers Cato (in his De Agri Cultura), and Columella (in his De re Rustica), mentioned preserving cabbages and turnips with salt. It is believed to have been introduced to Europe in its present form 1,000 years later by Genghis Khan after plundering China. The Tartars took it in their saddlebags to Europe. There it took root mostly in Eastern European and Germanic cuisines, but also in other countries including France, where the name became choucroute.
Before frozen foods and the importation of foods from the Southern Hemisphere became readily available in northern and central Europe, sauerkraut provided a source of nutrients during the winter. James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him it prevented scurvy.
Geographic distribution 
In Germany, sauerkraut is often flavoured with juniper berries. Traditionally it is served with pork, Strasbourg sausage or frankfurters, bacon, smoked pork or smoked Morteau or Montbéliard sausages, accompanied typically by roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings.
Sauerkraut is the most important ingredient in the shchi, a traditional soup of Russia where it has been known as far back as the 9th century, the time of the import of cabbage from Byzantium.
Similar foods 
Many other vegetables are preserved by a similar process.
Cultural references 
- During World War I, due to concerns the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as "Liberty cabbage" for the duration of the war. (See also: Freedom fries.)
- During World War I, British and Commonwealth forces used the word Kraut derived from the dish as a derogatory term for the German people.
- During World War II, the term coined by the British was picked up by American Forces.
See also 
- Farnworth, Edward R. (2003). Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods. CRC. ISBN 0-8493-1372-4.
- "Fermented Fruits and Vegetables - A Global SO Perspective". United Nations FAO. 1998. Retrieved 2007-06-10.
- The pH of completely cured sauerkraut is about 3.6; see Belitz, H.-D.; Grosch, Werner; Schieberle, Peter (2009). Food Chemistry (4th Edition). Springer. p. 803. ISBN 9783540699330.
- F. BREIDT, JR. (2004). "A Genomic Study of Leuconostoc mesenteroides and the Molecular Ecology of Sauerkraut Fermentations". Journal of Food Science 69 (1): 30–33. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2004.tb17874.x. Retrieved 2011-19-01.
- Applications of biotechnology to traditional fermented foods: report of an ad hoc panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. 1992. pp. 15–45. ISBN 0-309-04685-8. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- Lipski, Elizabeth (2013). "6". Digestion Connection: The Simple, Natural Plan to COmbat Diabetes, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Acid Reflux--And More!. Rodale. p. 63. ISBN 978-1609619459.
- The Health Bank
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- Grave of John Jay Terrell
- Ward, Jessica B. 2004. Food to Die for: A Book of Funeral Food, Tips and Tales from the Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg, VA: Southern Memorial Association, pp. 149–150.
- "Sauerkraut as a remedy for canker sores - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
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- Pu, C. et al.; Xia, C; Xie, C; Li, K (November 2001). "Research on the dynamic variation and elimination of nitrite content in sauerkraut during pickling". Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 30 (6): 352–4. PMID 12561618.
- Wantke, F. et al.; Götz, M; Jarisch, R (December 1993). "Histamine-free diet: treatment of choice for histamine-induced food intolerance and supporting treatment for chronic headaches". Clinical & Experimental Allergy (Blackwell Publishing) 23 (12): 982–5. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.1993.tb00287.x. PMID 10779289.
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- Chang, Ellen T.; Hans-Olov Adami (October 2006). "The Enigmatic Epidemiology of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma". Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 15 (10): 1765–77. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0353. PMID 17035381.
- Hung, Hsin-chia et al.; Huang, MC; Lee, JM; Wu, DC; Hsu, HK; Wu, MT (June 2004). "Association between diet and esophageal cancer in Taiwan". Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 19 (6): 632–7. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1746.2004.03346.x. PMID 15151616.
- Siddiqi, Maqsood; R. Preussmann (1989). "Esophageal cancer in Kashmir — an assessment". Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology (Springer) 115 (2): 111–7. doi:10.1007/BF00397910. PMID 2715165. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
- "British Nutrition Foundation". Retrieved 13 February 2008.[dead link]
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- "6 Reasons to Drink Fermented Cabbage Juice". Realfoodforager.com. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
- "The History of Sauerkraut". Kitchenproject.com. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- "Sauerkraut - Sauerkraut Is the Quintessential Eastern European Vegetable - all About Sauerkraut". Easteuropeanfood.about.com. 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- Gazette, The (2007-09-22). "Sauerkraut rises above its humble origins". Canada.com. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- see http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php?type=webpage&id=55 / What did they eat? which begins "One of Cook's most important discoveries..." and http://www.vitamindeficiency.info/?page_id=9 which additionally mentions "...citrus fruit such as lemons and lime. James Cook ...."
- Saloheimo P (2005). "[Captain Cook used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy]". Duodecim (in Finnish) 121 (9): 1014–5. PMID 15991750.
- "Meet the Germans – Typically German - The Germans and ... - Sauerkraut - Goethe-Institut". Goethe.de. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
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- USDA Canning guides, Volume 7
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- Aubert, Claude (1999). Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques & Recipes. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN 1-890132-10-1.
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- Katz, Sandor Ellix (2003). Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN 1-931498-23-7. Retrieved 2006-04-23.
- Kaufmann, Klaus (2001). Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home. Book Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-55312-037-7.
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