Raw home-made sauerkraut was analysed in the lab and it was found that in just a cup of it there were literally about ten trillion probiotic bacteria! That means a half cup of home fermented raw sauerkraut contains more probiotics than a whole bottle of the best and very expensive probiotic supplement!
Unfortunately most of the commercial sauerkrauts are pasteurised (heated), which means they are either completely deprived of live probiotic bacteria or are too low in them to be a good source of probiotics. Also probiotic count of store-bought, shelf stable sauerkraut does not compare to the raw home-brewed sauerkraut. Most yogurts are also deprived of live probiotics.
WHAT SPECIES ARE COMMONLY PRESENT IN SAUERKRAUT?
The following four main species of lactic acid bacteria are commonly present in sauerkraut:
– Lactobacillus plantarum
– Leuconostoc mesenteroides
– Lactobacillus brevis
– Pediococcus pentosaceus
Of course, sauerkraut contains many other species, including Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus sakei, Weissella species, Lactobacillus curvatus, Lactobacillus coryniformis, Leuconostoc argentinum, Leuconostoc fallax, Leuconostoc citreum and other types of beneficial bacteria.
WHAT IS USUALLY THE PREDOMINANT TYPE OF BACTERIA PRESENT IN SAUERKRAUT?
In sauerkraut, the predominant bacteria strain that’s born during the fermentation phase is especially Lactobacillus is plantarum.
During fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria naturally present on the cabbage leaves start fermenting the sugar in the cabbage leading to a rapid growth of different species of lactic acid bacteria, which are less or more stomach acid tolerant.
ARE PROBIOTIC BACTERIA FROM SAUERKRAUT ABLE TO SURVIVE STOMACH ACID AND RICH COLON?
When after two weeks the fermentation process is completed, the concentration of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut reaches over 1 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) per gram!
When you eat sauerkraut the large part of the probiotic bacteria from ingested sauerkraut will survive stomach acid and at least 30–40% of them will rich the intestines and colon to greatly benefit your immune system, mood, nervous system, colon and general health.
DOES EVERY SAUERKRAUT BATCH CONTAIN THE SAME TYPE OF BACTERIA?
Each batch of raw sauerkraut may contain different species of probiotics in different proportions, making sauerkraut a different combination of probiotics each time. The type of probiotics depends on the type of bacteria naturally present on cabbage leaves.
HOW TO MAKE RAW SAUERKRAUT AT HOME
– Wash a stone or a glass jar with hot water and dry it. Make sure it’s clean.
– Wash your hands.
– Shred a medium cabbage (white or red or both) and one washed carrot. If you want to make more sauerkrout shred 2 or more cabbages and remember to proportionally increase other ingredients.
– Add 1 teaspoon of pink salt, Celtic salt or sea salt (2 teaspoons for a large cabbage). If you add too much salt it will slow down the fermentation process as salt preserves food.
– Add a tablespoon of each of the following seasoning (at least 3 of them, but the more you add the more health benefits you may expect): Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Juniper berries, Caraway seeds, Dill, Oregano, Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds, and one teaspoonof Cayenne pepper.
– Mix all ingredients together.
– Before putting the mixture in the jar pound it for about 10 minutes until the cabbage releases juices.
– Place it in a mason jar and press down firmly (very important!) until the juices come at the top of the cabbage.
– Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 2-3 weeks before moving it to the refrigerator.
Although the fermentation process will last and the optimum amount of probiotic bacteria will be reached after 2 to 3 weeks yet you can start consuming it after one week (about 1-3 tablespoons a day). Kept in the fridge the sauerkraut will be preserve for months.
Consume your sauerkraut raw as cooking will kill probiotics it contains.
EXPLANATION OF THE FERMENTATION PROCESS
The first stage of the fermentation involves anaerobic bacteria, and that is why the shredded cabbage and salt need to be pressed and packed in an airtight container.
The bacteria, mostly Leuconostoc species, produce carbon dioxide (replacing the last vestiges of oxygen in the jar) and lactic acid, which is a natural by-product of anaerobic respiration.
Eventually, the conditions within the jar become too acidic for Leuconostoc bacteria to survive so they die out, and are replaced with Lactobacillus and other species that can survive in the acidic environment.
The Lactobacillus keep on fermenting sugars remaining in the cabbage, which produces more lactic acid, until the fermented cabbage reaches a pH of about 3.
These bacteria are inhibited by high salt concentrations (so most sauerkraut contains around 2-3% salt) and low temperatures, and that is why during the first 2-3 weeks sauerkraut should be kept at room temperature rather than in the fridge. At pH3 the lactobacillus stop fermenting and the sauerkraut can be placed in the fridge and stored until needed.
It is important to remember that if the jar is stored in an environment which is too warm, the sauerkraut to form the wrong consistency, can get too acidic too early the lactobacillus get in on the action early leading to soft sauerkraut. Although the finished sauerkraut is too acidic for pathogenic bacteria and fungi to live in, fungal spores may settle during the process if the temperature or other factors are not right spoiling the sauerkraut.
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© 2016 Slawomir Gromadzki – All Rights Reserved