Perogies and Sauerkraut
What are Probiotics?
The word probiotic (from the Greek) means “for life”.
Probiotic: (1) A beneficial bacterium found in the intestinal tract of healthy mammals or (2) Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.
Probiotics are “friendly bacteria”. Yogurt with live cultures is one natural food that has become mainstream in society, but there are others…
Fermented foods are part of nearly every traditional culture. As far back as Roman times, people ate sauerkraut because of its taste and benefits to overall health. People knew then how good it was for them, even before it was talked about in the media and health insurer providers like aviva.co.uk published articles on the topic. In Asian cultures, pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots still exist today.
Probiotics Promote Health
Probiotics are thought to promote health by:
- Suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria
- Improving immune function
- Enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract
- Helping to produce vitamin K
- Helping replace the good bacteria that have been destroyed by medicines or illness
An analysis of studies in the journal of Alternative Medicine Review found that chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and Rheumatoid arthritis may be associated with fewer friendly bacteria in the gut.
Sauerkraut: A Probiotic Food You Can Enjoy All Winter
The best, most hypoallergenic and digestible form of probiotics is sauerkraut. It’s loaded with extra B vitamins and vitamin C.
Make it using ancient sea salt like Redmond’s Real Salt and you’ll have a food product loaded with trace minerals like phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, zinc, iodine and others… Trace minerals missing from many of our foods today due to depleted soils.
One study done by Michigan State University and Warsaw’s National Food and Nutrition Institute found women who eat at least three servings per week of sauerkraut or raw cabbage are significantly less likely to develop breast cancer than those who have only one serving.
One possible explanation for how cabbage could reduce breast cancer risk… Researchers at the University of Illinois identified compounds in cabbage and sauerkraut that block the action of estrogen.
And a study from Finland found that fermenting cabbage produces isothiocyanates, compounds with recognized anti-cancer properties.
“We are finding that fermented cabbage could be healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, especially for fighting cancer,” says Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, Ph.D., research manager of MTT Agrifood Research Finland.
To make matters even better, sauerkraut may give your libido a boost.
Bestselling author of You Are What You Eat, Dr Gillian McKeith says, “The sexiest food of all is raw sauerkraut. Honestly! Research carried out in the US found that 90 percent of men were more ‘up for it’ after eating the pickled cabbage.”
Fun and Easy to Make Your Own
Most commercially available brands of sauerkraut have been pasteurized to allow for easier transport and shelf stability. But pasteurization destroys any probiotics within the vegetables. So, too, does the use of sodium benzoate, a common preservative.
While there are sources for non-pasteurized kraut, they are quite expensive, and it’s fun and easy to make your own. Since I’m about ready to make my yearly batch, I decided to share my thoughts with you. An Internet search will turn up a variety of recipes, but some of them are complicated (and a few are in error).
The recipe I’ve used successfully for the last 2 years is from Purdue University Extension. It’s a simple pdf download, which you can print out for your recipe book or save on your computer.
Good sources to find the right cabbage for kraut are your local farmer’s market, a roadside stand or a local fruit and vegetable market. I’d avoid buying your cabbage in the grocery store, as it likely won’t be the right kind for kraut.
So, gather the family and spend the afternoon making your own probiotic you can enjoy all winter. When you’re ready to start eating it, Great Lakes Kraut Company has dozens of mouth watering recipes from appetizers to desserts. They even have one for kraut pizza!
Photo credit: mpich3