Fermented Cabbage

Fermented cabbage is raw finely shredded cabbage, which has been mixed with salt, tightly packed into an airtight container and left to ferment. This fermentation process not only preserves the cabbage and gives it a tangy taste, it also promotes the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria, found on the raw cabbage leaves. These probiotic bacteria, which include Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus brevis and Lactobacillus plantarum are proven to be beneficial to health.

Fermented Cabbage is Thought  to Have Originated in China

Although fermented cabbage, pickled cabbage or sauerkraut (literally sour cabbage) as it is commonly known, is most often associated with Germany, it is thought that the original food originated in China over 2,000 years ago, where it is said to have been a staple food for the laborers building the Great Wall. From here, nomadic tribesmen are said to have introduced the food to Europe. Much later European migrants then brought their cabbage to the United States.

Today sauerkraut is one of the most popular probiotic foods. It is consumed by many different peoples around the world. The French eat choucroute, the Germans of course sauerkraut and the Koreans kimchi.

Health Benefits of Fermented Cabbage

A serving of sauerkraut is a good source of fiber as well as the following vitamins and mineral including:

Vitamins

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin E

Minerals

  • Manganese

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

What’s more this wonderful food contains live cultures of lactic acid probiotic bacteria. These bacteria, which are present in large quantities, have been shown to1,2,3:

  • Maintain and normalize the balance of intestinal flora.

  • Improve immunity.

  • Inhibit the growth of disease-causing organisms (pathogens) including Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium.

Specifically Lactobacillus plantarum, which is the most abundant of the three main bacterial species in sauerkraut, has been scientifically proven to:

  • Have a beneficial effect in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)4.

  • Reduce the levels of Clostridium Difficile (also known as C. Diff) in critically ill patients treated with antibiotics5.


Commercial or Homemade Fermented Cabbage?

If you are interested in trying fermented cabbage, then you have two options. You can buy a ready-made product or you can make your own.

Ready-made or commercial fermented cabbage is sold in most grocery and health food stores. It is usually labeled "sauerkraut" or "picked cabbage" and often contains additional herbs and spices such as dill or caraway seeds. Commercial sauerkraut is really convenient – it’s ready made and typically has a long shelf life.

However, much of the commercial sauerkraut cabbage is not even fermented but rather is simply soaked in salt and vinegar to mimic the flavor of traditional sauerkraut. That which is fermented is often typically pasteurized and sadly this process kills the beneficial bacteria in the product and also destroys some of the vitamin C content. Pasteurized sauerkraut, with its loss of friendly bacteria, therefore does not offer the same health benefits as homemade fermentations. You Can Make Fermented Cabbage at Home

You can buy unpasteurized fermented cabbage but this is harder to find. It tends to be available in health food stores. You can also make your own at home. It’s really easy! If you’re interested in learning how to make sauerkraut, then have a look at our dedicated page on how to make sauerkraut. Homemade sauerkraut has a wonderful tangy taste. It tastes so much better than bought-in versions and it’s also loaded with beneficial bacteria, which are good for your health!

Buy Fermented Cabbage Equipment

If you want to try making your own fermented cabbage, you can buy all the equipment you require at our store.

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References

1.Rolfe, R.D; The Role of Probiotic Cultures in the Control of Gastrointestinal Health; J Nutrition; 2000; 130 (Supplement 2); 396-402

2.Erickson KL & Hubbard NE;Probiotic Immunomodulation in Health and Disease; J Nutrition; 2000: 130(Supplement 2); 403-409

3.Ried, K;Gastrointestinal Health: The Role of Pro- and Prebiotics in Standard Foods; April 2004; Australian Family Physician; Vol 33, No 4; 252-255

4.Niedzielin K et al, .A Controlled, Double-Blind, Randomized Study on the Efficacy of Lactobacillus Plantarum 299V in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome; European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology; October 2001; Volume 13; Issue 10 - pp 1143-1147

5.Klarin B. et al, Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v Reduces Colonisation of Clostridium Difficile in Critically Ill Patients Treated with Antibiotics; Acta Anaesthesiol Scand; 2008 Sep;52(8):1096-102.


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