Sauerkraut is a nutritious addition to the diet that acts as both a food and a medicine. Sauerkraut is made from lacto-fermented cabbage, and is a rich source of lactobacilli and lactic acid, which are medicinal for the gut. The lactic acid inhibits growth of putrefactive bacteria, and the lactobacilli are probiotic bacteria that protect against intestinal infections and bacterial overgrowth. The acidity aids digestion and assists in the assimilation of iron and other minerals. Sauerkraut is also a rich source of vitamin C. Captain Cook took barrels of it on his long voyages to protect his crew from scurvy, a disease of vitamin C deficiency.
Sauerkraut is easy and cheap to make. Here is a recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 Tbsp whey (from yogurt)
Mix the shredded cabbage, caraway seeds, salt and whey in a large bowl. Pound the mixture with a wooden pounder or muddler for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in a glass preserving jar and press down until the juices come to the top of the cabbage, leaving about an inch of space from the top of the jar. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 3 days. You may need to press the cabbage down for the first couple of days of fermentation to release the gas. When no more gas is being produced, the fermentation process is complete and the sauerkraut can be transferred to cold storage or eaten.