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How is Raw Sauerkraut Different from other Kraut and Why is it Healthier?

Posted by Meghan Wilson on
How is Raw Sauerkraut Different from other Kraut and Why is it Healthier?

Sauerkraut (“sour cabbage”) is a staple in Eastern European diets and is growing in popularity throughout the world. This dish was introduced long ago to preserve cabbage by mixing shredded cabbage with fresh salt and putting pressure on the mixture to release water, ultimately creating the right environment for fermentation. This process encourages the growth of  microbes or good bacteria, commonly known as probiotics. 

Fast Facts About Raw Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a nutrition powerhouse, here’s some quick facts about one cup of raw kraut. 

  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 15 milligrams
  • Calcium: 30 milligrams
  • Iron: 1.5 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 13 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 20 milligrams
  • Potassium: 170 milligrams
  • Folate: 24 micrograms
  • Vitamin A: 18 micrograms
  • Vitamin K: 13 micrograms

Difference Between Raw Sauerkraut and Canned Sauerkraut 

Many may not know the difference between raw and canned sauerkraut, but there’s a big difference! Raw kraut has many health benefits, while on the other hand, canned kraut only has a few. Canned kraut goes through a unique heating process to sterilize  the cabbage, then is stuffed into glass jars. Raw kraut is fermented in containers and then transferred to a fridge to slow the fermentation process when it’s ready to eat. It must always be kept in the fridge because the probiotics from the fermentation process are still living and active. Canned kraut loses those healthy benefits during the heating process and produces a different taste and yellow-ish color. Raw kraut has a tangier taste, crunch, and more of a green, fresh color. 

What’s in Raw Kraut

Raw sauerkraut has probiotics in it, which are really good for your digestive system.  Probiotic is a Greek word meaning “promoting life.”  Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. These microorganisms feed the “good” bacteria in your gut to keep things movin and groovin in your digestive tract to keep you healthy. About 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut, which means you want to consume things that promote gut health. Eating raw sauerkraut is one of the best ways to do this, and it also contains vitamins K, C & B, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium.

Health Benefits

You only need to eat about a tablespoon a day of raw kraut to reap the benefits. Here’s a list of some of the best ones. 

Help Improve Digestion

This is one of the most important benefits as raw sauerkraut is easy to digest and contains gut-helping probiotics. If you opt for sauerkraut over unfermented cabbage, it’s a lot easier on your stomach. Fermentation makes the digestive process easier on your stomach, by the time it hits your mouth  some of the digestion work is already done, according to registered dietitian Erica Ingraham, RND. Raw sauerkraut naturally contains enzymes that make the whole process easier. In addition, people with IBS may find that sauerkraut helps alleviate constipation, cramps, bloating or gas. 

Improves Immune Function

Sauerkraut is high in vitamin C, which is essential for supporting the immune system. One cup packs 21 milligrams of vitamin C. With this, consuming sauerkraut can reduce inflammation in the gut and alleviate allergies.  

Protects Cognitive Health 

The gut and the brain are connected. By consuming probiotic foods it can help support brain health or memory and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. It can help you handle stress and improve your mood. 

Provides Antioxidants to Fight off Diseases 

Both sauerkraut and cabbage are good sources of “glucosinolates and ascorbigen, which are cancer-fighting compounds,” Ingraham explained. “Sauerkraut and cabbage contain sulforaphane, a compound that may block HDAC enzymes, which is an enzyme class involved in cancer development. However, more research is needed to determine sauerkraut’s effect on cancer prevention.”

Crockpot Asian Inspired Ribs with Ginger BBQ Sauce and Spicy Sauerkraut

In this recipe we'll pull flavors from ginger, coriander and black cardamom to pair especially well with pork and spicy Gnar Gnar sauerkraut. The sauce itself is optional but adds another layer of sweet and tangy that is just as delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • 1 cup Onion - julienned
  • 3 Cloves Garlic - finely chopped
  • 2 Star anise
  • 2 Tb. Fresh ginger - peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 Fresh bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Ground black cardamon
  • 1 (Spicy) Gnar Gnar Kraut
  • 1/2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 16 oz Bottle of Belgian style ale - we used Hitachino white ale
  • 1 1/2 -2 lbs. Baby back ribs - silver removed and cut in half to fit the pot
  • Ginger BBQ Sauce
  • 10 oz. Crushed tomato
  • 2 Tb. Tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Molasses
  • 1/2 cup Tamari
  • 3/4 cup Yellow Onion - minced
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tb. Fresh ginger - peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic - chopped

Instructions

Ribs

  • Set your pressure cooker @crockpot to Brown/ Sear and when it says hot, add the vegetable oil, wait a few seconds.
  • Season ribs: with salt and pepper
  • Sear ribs: meat side down in a single layer. Transfer them to a platter.
  • Change @crockpot settings to Sauté: Add the onions, garlic, ginger, bayleaf, anise pepper, cardamom and coriander and sauté until translucent.
  • Add ingredients: Add Gnar Gnar sauerkraut and ribs to the pot making sure the ribs are covered by the sauerkraut.
  • Pour in your beer and bring to a simmer.
  • Put the lid on the @crockpot and set the knob to sealing.
  • Press the Cancel/Keep Warm button to cancel the sauté mode.
  • Press the Pressure Cook (or Manual) button or dial, make sure it is set to high pressure, and use the +/- button or dial to adjust the time to 60 minutes.
  • After the cooking cycle ends, press the Cancel button to turn off the pot, and wait 10 minutes (NPR - Natural Pressure Release).
  • Release the rest of the pressure manually .
  • Give it a good stir. Once done the rib meat should pull away from the bone with relative ease. Be sure to remove and discard the bayleaf and star anise after cooking.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, Enjoy!

Sauce

  • Sauté: onion, garlic and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat for one minute.
  • Add: tomato paste and continue to cook until the onions are translucent stirring often to prevent the tomato paste from burning.
  • Combine: the crushed tomato, molasses, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar in the sauce pot.
  • Whisk: until well incorporated. When the sauce comes to a simmer, turn the heat to medium-low and keep at a very low simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Check and stir periodically.
  • Remove: the sauce from the heat and let cool before transferring to a blender.
  • Blend: until smooth starting with a low speed and the moving to a higher speed. Be sure to allow the steam heat to escape from your sauce as you blend. Removing the cap from the blender top should help.

Sources

https://iowacity.momcollective.com/2016/10/04/everything-need-know-raw-fermented-sauerkraut/

https://www.wellandgood.com/sauerkraut-benefits/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection

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