What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is simply cabbage mixed with salt, sometimes other vegetables, herbs and spices, which is then left to ferment over a period of time (anywhere from a week to a few months). It is thought to have originated in Eastern Europe and is still extremely popular in Germany, Netherlands and Poland.
The natural fermentation process means that sugars and carbohydrates are eaten by bacteria and then transformed into lactic acid. The lactic acid produced makes the cabbage taste tangy and pickled- a lot of our customers are really surprised when we tell them that no vinegar has been added.
Kimchi is also fermented cabbage but originates from Korea where fermented vegetables are eaten regularly as part of their daily diet. Kimchi has other ingredients added to the cabbage such as chillies, ginger and garlic with vegetables like carrots, radish and onions- the result being a complex mix of a spicy, salty & sour taste and our ‘Celtic Kymchi’ is our bestselling flavour.
To make our sauerkraut we ferment cabbages in sea salt mixed with a range of delicious herbs, spices and other fresh vegetables. We aim to jazz standard sauerkraut up, increase the health benefits and make it even more scrumptious for our customers.
Why is eating fermented foods ‘Good for You’?
In recent years there has been an increasing amount of attention surrounding the benefits of eating fermented foods and we have seen a ‘fermented food’ revival with small scale artisan producers popping up all over the place.
Firstly, the bacteria have already pre-digested the vegetables for you, so you are able to absorb MORE nutrients than if it was raw!
Secondly, our sauerkraut is unpasteurised and contains live Lactic Acid Bacteria which have been proven to be beneficial for your gut health when eaten regularly as part of a healthy diet, which in turn is essential for your overall health and wellbeing.
Thirdly, the process of making sauerkraut can be good for you- making such a simple, nutritious food for yourself or your family gives you a warm, ‘feel good’ feeling and especially when you add a big splash of love (which we do in every batch!).
These gut-friendly bacteria that are abundant in sauerkraut are commonly called probiotics and the food they need to consume in order to thrive are called prebiotics.
Dr. Tim Spector (British Gut Project) said in his book ‘The Diet Myth’, treat your microbes ”like you would treat your own garden. Give them plenty of fertiliser- prebiotics, fibre and nutrients. Plant new seeds regularly in the shape of probiotics and new foods. Give the soil an occasional rest by fasting. Experiment, but avoid poisoning your microbiotic garden with preservatives, antiseptic mouthwashes, antibiotics, junk food and sugar”
What are fermented foods?
: to undergo a chemical change by the action of bacteria or yeast (Oxford Dictionary 3rd Edition, 2009).
Fermented foods are food that has been changed by the action of microbes and most of us consume fermented foods every day without even realising it.
Examples of fermented foods are cheese, bread, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy sauce, salami and pepperoni. Examples of fermented drinks are wine, beer, coffee, tea, kefir and kombucha.
What is my microbiome?
Your microbiome is a collection of all microorganisms (like bacteria, yeasts, viruses) that live in and on your body and rather than looking at your body as purely human, it is useful to view your body as an ecosystem. If your body were broken down into cells then there would be more than double the number of microbial cells than human cells and most of the microbes are friendly and beneficial to our health. These friendly bacteria assist you in multiple ways such as: helping to digest food to extract nutrients, producing vitamins that we are unable to, warns our immune system of invaders and produces anti-inflammatory compounds to fight off other disease-causing microbes. They can affect our immune system, metabolism, body weight and mood.
When the balance between good and bad bacteria becomes disrupted and the bad bacteria thrive, this can lead to dis-ease. Direct results of this could be IBS, asthma, and obesity. There are many contributors to the good/bad bacteria balance in our microbiome such as exercise, sleep, stress and medication and of course diet.
The science and understanding of how these relationships between microbes and our bodies work is still in its infancy but if you’re interested in finding out more then take a look at the Human Microbiome Project, the American Gut Project and the British Gut Project.
Why is ‘Happiness an inside job’?
We love this saying as we really believe that happiness comes from within but also because 90% of our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine (‘feel-good’’ hormones) are produced in our guts by our friendly bacteria, so looking after your gut health is also really important for your mental health.
How much sauerkraut should I eat?
If you have any gut related health problems and have never tried live, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi before then start small (a teaspoon full (roughly 5g) with a meal) and start upping the serving to about 30g (two tablespoons) a day over the course of a few days, pay attention and listen to your body. The only symptoms you may suffer would be excessive wind or a going to the toilet more regularly, these symptoms should die down after a few days as your bodies microbiome changes and settles.
It is generally recommended to eat no more than 250g sauerkraut at a time (yes that’s nearly a jar full and yes some people do eat that much at a time!) Our range of sauerkrauts do not contain any allergens, are suitable for vegans and as we have a purpose-built kitchen all of our products are completely gluten-free.
Our products are suitable for everyone including children, pregnant women and the infirm.
However, if you have been advised by your doctor to eat a low tyramine diet or are taking MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) medication then do not eat our products.
Do we need to keep it in the fridge?
We advise our customers to keep their jars in the fridge as this keeps the quality at its best and quietens down the activity of the bacteria. However, it is perfectly safe to not keep it in the fridge but it will keep on fermenting slowly and this may affect the texture and taste of the sauerkraut. We’ve had extensive laboratory testing carried out on our products and they are even safe to eat after 2 years unopened! For best quality, we recommend keeping it in the fridge after opening and eat within 10 days.
What do I do if the jar has leaked or is making a fizzing noise?
Do not worry, this is perfectly normal when dealing with live, fermented vegetables although it does not happen very often. It can sometimes happen if the jar becomes warm and the bacteria inside wake up and become more active- this causes a build-up of CO2 and can make the jar lid appear pushed up and sometimes if you’re really lucky you get to witness the sauerkraut bubble and fizz when opened. This is just evidence of its aliveness!
What should it taste like?
We always get asked if there is vinegar in our products and when we say no people are amazed- some people ask us more than once! Our products should taste tangy, sour, salty and sometimes a little fizzy on the tongue. We have developed six flavours with the aim of making sure there is one to suit everyone’s palette, we have two spicy flavours, a traditional one and three ‘colourful’ flavours. They give your mouth an incredible taste sensation and before you know it, you will be addicted! No meal will ever be complete without a serving of our sauerkraut again.