Sauerkraut Article

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German sauerkraut

Sauerkraut ( /ˈs.ərkrt/; German: [ˈzaʊɐˌkʁaʊt] ( About this sound  listen), lit. 'sour cabbage') is finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. [1] [2] It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid formed when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage leaves. [3] [4]

Overview and history

Polish kiszona kapusta

Fermented foods have a long history in many cultures, with sauerkraut being one of the most well-known instances of traditional fermented moist cabbage side dishes. [5][ better source needed] The Roman writers Cato (in his De Agri Cultura) and Columella (in his De re Rustica) mentioned preserving cabbages and turnips with salt.[ citation needed]

Sauerkraut originally came from China, from where it was brought over to Europe by the Tatars. [6] The Tatars improved upon the original Chinese recipe by fermenting it with salt instead of rice wine. [7] Another claim is that the dish was brought over by the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan. [8] It then took root mostly in Central and Eastern European cuisines, but also in other countries including the Netherlands, where it is known as zuurkool, and France, where the name became choucroute. [9] The English name is borrowed from German where it means literally "sour herb" or "sour cabbage". [10] The names in Slavic and other Central and Eastern European languages have similar meanings with the German word: "fermented cabbage" ( Albanian: lakër turshi, Belarusian: квашаная капуста, Czech: kysané zelí, Polish: kiszona kapusta or kwaszona kapusta, Lithuanian: rauginti kopūstai, Russian: квашеная капуста, tr. kvashenaya kapusta, Ukrainian: квашена капуста) or "sour cabbage" ( Bulgarian: кисело зеле, Croatian: kiselo zelje, Czech: kyselé zelí, Estonian: hapukapsas, Finnish: hapankaali, Hungarian: savanyúkáposzta, Latvian: skābēti kāposti, Romanian: varză murată, Russian: кислая капуста, tr. kislaya kapusta, Serbian: kiseli kupus, Slovak: kyslá kapusta, Slovene: kislo zelje, Ukrainian: кисла капуста, kisla kapusta). [11]

Before frozen foods, refrigeration, and cheap transport from warmer areas became readily available in northern, central and eastern Europe, sauerkraut – like other preserved foods – 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. [12] [13]

The word " Kraut", derived from this food, is a derogatory term for the German people. [14] 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. [15]


Homemade sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lactic acid 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 favors 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. [16] Properly cured sauerkraut is sufficiently acidic to prevent a favorable environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the toxins of which cause botulism. [1] [2]

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. [17]

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. [18]

Regional varieties

Eastern European-style sauerkraut pickled with carrots and served as a salad

In Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Baltic country and Ukrainian cuisine, chopped cabbage is often pickled together with shredded carrots. Other ingredients may include whole or quartered apples for additional flavor or cranberry for flavor and better keeping (the benzoic acid in cranberries is a common preservative). Bell peppers and beets are added in some recipes for colour. The resulting sauerkraut salad is typically served cold, as a zakuski or a side dish. There is also a home made type of very mild sauerkraut where white cabbage is pickled with salt in a refrigerator for only between three and seven days. This results in very little lactic acid being produced. Sometimes in Russia the double fermentation is used, with the initial step producing an exceptionally sour product, which is then "corrected" by adding 30-50% more fresh cabbage and fermenting the mix again. The flavor additives like apples, beets, cranberries and sometimes even watermelons are usually introduced at this step.

Sauerkraut may be used as a filling for Polish pierogi, Ukrainian varenyky, Russian pirogi and pirozhki. [19] Sauerkraut is also the central ingredient in traditional soups, such as shchi (a national dish of Russia), kwaśnica (Poland), kapustnica ( Slovakia), and zelňačka ( Czech Republic). It is an ingredient of Polish bigos (a hunter's stew). [1]

In Germany, cooked sauerkraut is often flavored with juniper berries [20] or caraway seeds; apples and white wine are added in popular variations. Traditionally it is served warm, with pork (e.g. eisbein, schweinshaxe, Kassler) or sausages (smoked or fried sausages, Frankfurter Würstchen, Vienna sausages, black pudding), accompanied typically by roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings ( knödel or schupfnudel). [21] Similar recipes are common in other Central European cuisines. The Czech national dish vepřo knedlo zelo consists of roast pork with knedliky and sauerkraut.

In France, sauerkraut is the main ingredient of the Alsatian meal choucroute garnie ( French for "dressed sauerkraut"), sauerkraut with sausages (Strasbourg sausages, smoked Morteau or Montbéliard sausages), charcuterie (bacon, ham, etc.), and often potatoes.

Sauerkraut, along with pork, is eaten traditionally in Pennsylvania on New Year's Day. The tradition, started by the Pennsylvania Dutch, is thought to bring good luck for the upcoming year. [22] Sauerkraut is also used in American cuisine as a condiment upon various foods, such as sandwiches and hot dogs. [3] [4] [23]

Health effects


Sauerkraut (including liquid)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy78 kJ (19 kcal)
4.3 g
Sugars1.8 g
Dietary fiber2.9 g
0.14 g
0.9 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Vitamin B6
0.13 mg
Vitamin C
15 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
1.5 mg
661 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water92 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Many health benefits have been claimed for sauerkraut:

  • If unpasteurized and uncooked, sauerkraut also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes. Fiber and probiotics improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract. [25] [26]
  • During the American Civil War, the physician John Jay Terrell (1829–1922) [27] [28] was able to successfully reduce the death rate from disease among prisoners of war; he attributed this to feeding his patients raw sauerkraut. [29]
  • Sauerkraut and its juice is a time-honored folk remedy for canker sores. The treatment is to rinse the mouth with sauerkraut juice for about 30 seconds several times a day, or place a wad of sauerkraut against the affected area for a minute or so before chewing and swallowing the sauerkraut. [30]
  • In 2002, 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. [31] 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". [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39]


Excessive consumption of sauerkraut may lead to bloating and flatulence due to the trisaccharide raffinose, which the human small intestine cannot break down. [41]

Scientific discovery

One of the early scientists who was involved in identifying the biology and function of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats ( CRISPR), Philippe Horvath, focused on the genetics of a lactic-acid bacteria used in the production of sauerkraut. [42]

Similar foods

Many other vegetables are preserved by a similar process:

See also


  1. ^ a b Farnworth, Edward R. (2003). Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods. CRC. ISBN  0-8493-1372-4.
  2. ^ a b "Fermented Fruits and Vegetables - A Global SO Perspective". United Nations FAO. 1998. Retrieved 2007-06-10.
  3. ^ a b Gil Marks. Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. p. 1052.
  4. ^ a b Joseph Mercola, Brian Vaszily, Kendra Pearsall, Nancy Lee Bentley. Dr. Mercola's Total Health Cookbook & Program. p. 227.
  5. ^ Wendy Brown (2011). Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil. New Society Publishers. p. 60. ISBN  978-1-55092-471-8. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  6. ^ Sauerkraut in a crock. Originally from China, sauerkraut can be made fresh at home, Christian Science Monitor
  7. ^ Sauerkraut: It All Began in China, New York Times
  8. ^ The History of Sauerkraut, The Kitchen Project
  9. ^ Gazette, The (22 September 2007). "Sauerkraut rises above its humble origins". Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  10. ^ The German for cabbage is Kohl, while Kraut means "herb". However the latter also means cabbage in such words as Sauerkraut, Weißkraut (white cabbage), etc.
  11. ^ "Sauerkraut - Sauerkraut Is the Quintessential Eastern European Vegetable - all About Sauerkraut". 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  12. ^ see / What did they eat? which begins "One of Cook's most important discoveries..." and which additionally mentions "...citrus fruit such as lemons and lime. James Cook ...."
  13. ^ Saloheimo P (2005). "[Captain Cook used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy]". Duodecim (in Finnish). 121 (9): 1014–5. PMID  15991750.
  14. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition, 1989. "1. = SAUERKRAUT, SOURCROUT. Also attrib. and Comb. 2. (Often with capital initial.) A German, esp. a German soldier. Also attrib. and Comb. Derogatory."
  15. ^ "Sauerkraut may be 'Liberty Cabbage'" (PDF). The New York Times. 1918-04-25. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ F. BREIDT, JR. (2004). "A Genomic Study of Leuconostoc mesenteroides and the Molecular Ecology of Sauerkraut Fermentations" (PDF). Journal of Food Science. 69 (1): 30–33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2004.tb17874.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Pierogi – the best guide to the most popular Polish food".
  20. ^ Mimi Sheraton. The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking. p. 435.
  21. ^ "Meet the Germans – Typically German - The Germans and ... - Sauerkraut - Goethe-Institut". Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  22. ^ "Sauerkraut on New Year's a Pennsylvania tradition". 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  23. ^ Allergy Cuisine: Step by Step - Sylvia Ross. p. 94
  24. ^ a b "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  25. ^ a b 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.
  26. ^ Martina Watts. "Fancy Some Sauerkraut?". TheHealthBank. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  27. ^ Haggard, Robert F (1998). "Samuel Miller and the Founding of the Miller School of Albemarle". The Magazine of Albemarle County History. 56 (53–76): 62.
  28. ^ "Dr John Jay Terrell (1829 - 1922) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Sauerkraut as a remedy for canker sores - Los Angeles Times". 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  31. ^ EurekAlert (2002). "Sauerkraut contains anticancer compound".
  32. ^ Krajka-Kuźniak, V; Szaefer, H; Bartoszek, A; Baer-Dubowska, W (2013-03-25). "Modulation of rat hepatic and kidney phase II enzymes by cabbage juices: comparison with the effects of indole-3-carbinol and phenethyl isothiocyanate". Br J Nutr. 105 (6): 816–26. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510004526. PMID  21092375.
  33. ^ Moret, Sabrina; Smela, Dana; Populin, Tiziana; Conte, Lanfranco S.; et al. (2005). "A survey on free biogenic amine content of fresh and preserved vegetables". Food Chemistry. Elsevier. 89 (3): 355–361. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.02.050.
  34. ^ Pu, C.; Xia, C; Xie, C; Li, K; et al. (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.
  35. ^ Wantke, F.; Götz, M; Jarisch, R; et al. (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.
  36. ^ Ward, Mary H.; et al. (June 2000). "Dietary exposure to nitrite and nitrosamines and risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Taiwan". International Journal of Cancer. John Wiley & Sons. 86 (5): 603–9. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(20000601)86:5<603::AID-IJC1>3.0.CO;2-H. PMID  10797279.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Hung, Hsin-chia; Huang, MC; Lee, JM; Wu, DC; Hsu, HK; Wu, MT; et al. (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.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ "Ten Reasons to Eat Fresh Unpasteurized Sauerkraut". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  41. ^ St. John, Tina (5 June 2011). "Can You Eat Too Much Sauerkraut?". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  42. ^ Lander, Eric S. (2016-01-14). "The Heroes of CRISPR". Cell. 164 (1–2): 18–28. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.12.041. ISSN  1097-4172. PMID  26771483.


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