Saturday, March 08, 2008


Sauerkraut, which in German means "sour cabbage", is this food that people either seem to love or loathe. Long regarded as a digestive aid, sauerkraut is quite nutritious, containing Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and copper, as well as probiotics. It also contains isothiocyanates, which have been found in some studies to have anti-carcinogenic properties. A friend of mine who got me thinking about the stuff recently swears by Bubbies sauerkraut.

On the other hand, sauerkraut is also quite high in sodium (according to a the nutritional information on a jar of it, a cup contains around 23-25% of the maximum amount of sodium one should consume daily). There are other health risks to consider that stem from sauerkraut's content of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines, which are commonly found in salted, preserved foods. A couple of Google searches will show you that nitrosamines are frequently injected into lab rats to induce tumors for cancer studies. Vitamin C prevents the creation of nitrosamines, however, and there seems to be a lot more information circulating about sauerkraut's cancer-fighting abilities than there is about its being a potential

YouTube has a couple of videos on how to make sauerkraut. This one pretty much illustrates the basic no-frills method. I've never tried to make it myself, but intend to do so over the next few days. A small batch, anyway.

People have all kinds of variations on it. Many involve adding caraway seed or sour apples (or both). Some add fennel or celery seed, minced dill, scallions or shredded carrot. Red (or purple) cabbage makes a particularly attractive sauerkraut. I think that my first (or second) experiment may very well involve red cabbage, shredded carrot and some caraway seed.

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