crazy for kraut!
As part of the Functional Nutrition Alliance community (FxNA), you know that we’re dedicated to the health of your good gut bacteria. We’re a bunch of microbiome mavens over here!
You also already know that your bacteria sets the stage for every single health situation you may encounter – whether it’s your focus and drive, your digestive wellness or your immune function.
But why are we so crazy for kraut?
Sauerkraut, along with other fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles, kefir, miso and more, have been staples of the human diet throughout time. Without knowing it, our ancestors were eating to shift their microbiome, and therefore their health, for the better.
They ate for survival and protection. And these fermented foods helped to bolster the population of their internal bacteria to best serve their ability to ward off infection and disease. Many of us would benefit from the same.
Eating kraut regularly is one way to tune in to your internal “medicine” cabinet!
You know I’m all for home cooking (or home fermenting in this case!).
Yet at times, I do like to share a consumer report – focused on how we can spend less time in the kitchen, when we don’t have it, and more time trusting what we can procure off the shelves. The truth is, though we’re similar physiological specimens, our survival needs look very different than those of our ancestors. We need to borrow from their wisdom and adapt to our current demands.
It’s A-OK to go out to get your kraut!
ready, set, ferment!
- Kraut is typically made with green or red cabbage and salt (plus the good bacteria that come along with the cabbage). Yup, it’s that simple! But other veggies like carrots, beets, and cauliflower are also good fermenters. You can experiment at home or treat yourself to a “fancy” kraut that includes other veggies or unique combinations like curry, jalapeño, garlic, sea vegetables or ginger.
- If you buy your kraut, make sure it’s raw and has live cultures. How do you know? First, it will be in the refrigerated section (usually near the tofu and tempeh). If it’s not refrigerated or it’s in a can, it’s been pasteurized. That means the good bacteria’s been deprived (and that’s not what you want!)
- Kimchi is fermented like kraut but it’s a traditional Korean food, usually made with Nappa cabbage, carrots, and a blend of spices. If you like spicy, kimchi might be the fermented food for you. Even “normal” grocery stores often carry kimchi (look for it in the produce section), if you don’t have a health food store in your hometown or when you’re traveling.
- Kraut and other ferments will last quite a long time in the fridge. Probably up to a year, but hopefully you’ll eat it much faster!
- A little goes a long way when it comes to kraut. Think of kraut more as a condiment not a side dish. Have a one to three forkfuls with each meal to boost digestion and give yourself a steady, daily dose of the good guys your gut needs.
- Don’t forget to eat ’em! Maintaining bacterial health means staying in touch – with your ferments that is. As one of my colleagues likes to say: they’re not a “one and done deal”. Get in the habit of dishing some up daily with dinner and your digestion will dig it.
let’s get some kraut!
If you’re willing to do some kitchen experimenting (and have crocks of veggies scattered around your house), it’s actually quite easy to make your own kraut and fermented veggies. But it does take patience and time (usually at least 5 days, but longer is better).
But sometimes you want kraut right away.
Or maybe you’re just not that into countertop fermentation experimentation.
If that’s the case, there’s good news! There are more and more raw, delicious krauts available for you to buy. Head to your local health food store and see what you can find. Experiment and explore, your tastebuds (and digestion) will guide you and thank you.
And you might be really lucky and have a fermentation artisan in your town, so don’t forget to scan your Farmer’s Market for a local find.
Curious to know which krauts are in the kitchens of the FxNA Nutrition Team? Check out a few of our favorites below. And if we missed one of your favorites, let us know over on the Functional Nutrition Alliance Facebook Page.
We’re always on the look-out for fun new fermented veggies!
With unique flavor combinations, this kraut will surely tickle your tastebuds while keeping your belly happy. Arame Ginger, Dill and Garlic , Madras Curry Cauliflower, Red Beet and Red Cabbage. Hungry yet?
WildBrine also has 3 varieties of Kimchi (Japanese, Thai, and Korean) plus fermented salsas and pickles. Wild indeed!
Inspired by the slow food movement, professional chef, Kathryn Lukas founded Farmhouse Culture after years of experimenting with krauts in her kitchen. Her blends are as unique as her packaging (which she designed after working with traditional kraut artists in Europe.)
If you’re a pickle lover, try the Garlic Dill Pickle (tastes just like you think it will!) Or one of the other flavorful blends including Ginger Beet, Kimchi, Smoked Jalapeño, Horseradish Leek or Classic Caraway.
Next time you head to the store, put kraut on your grocery list and say hello good gut health!