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Raw sauerkraut: a fermented, probiotic superfood

“Sauerkraut is almost a perfect food,” explains Alexander Valley Gourmet’s founder David Ehreth. “It has cabbage which is a good thing to eat [ranked as one of the 10 best foods you’re not eating] and then fermented it is a particularly healthful food because it has a lot of probiotic and probiotic just means the bacteria that is normal in our bodies and that needs to be reinforced on a regular basis which is what sauerkraut does.”

Sauerkraut is a food preservation technique that predates refrigeration. It’s a pickling process called lacto-fermentation that is similar to how traditional pickled cucumbers (not heat-treated), Korean kimchi, Japanese tsukemono, Chinese suan cai and Filipino atchara are made.

The lactic acid in sauerkraut- resulting from the fermented sugars in the cabbage- acts as a preservative so pasteurization is not needed. Ehreth sees the move away from fermented foods as an example of how more technology didn’t necessarily benefit our health. “We got kind of fancy with ourselves and for the sake of shelf life and a material handling we stopped selling live culture foods because when you pasteurize this, you know, you can it and it will last for 10 years.”

Today, even most sauerkraut sold in supermarkets has been pasteurized so it  loses all the beneficial digestive enzymes, lactic acid bacteria and vitamin C content. In this video, Ehreth shows us his fresh, unpasteurized sauerkraut and talks about the trend toward more probiotic foods in the market.