Every couple of Saturday mornings we go to the Cabrillo Farmer’s Market, where the Kids breakfast on loaded baked potatoes and sample the offerings from local cheesemongers and I make a beeline for a shot of Farmhouse Culture’s kraut juice. More often than not come home with a bottle. This is the real thing, the original superfood, boldly flavored and so loaded with goodness you can actually feel you blood cells dancing for hours afterward. Especially the kimchi juice – cabbagegingergarlicradish all condensed in a tiny cup.
My notion of sauerkraut used to be clear mushy sweetly tangy ribbons of precooked cabbage that came packaged in plastic bags. The ones my mom used to buy and heat up with Polish sausage and boiled potatoes. You too? Then toss that idea out the window. It’s so . . . last century. Or at least mid-last century. Real sauerkraut is the stuff of tradition, of home preservation, of real foods – crunchy and aromatic, and, because it’s fermented, not boiled it’s a raw food, loaded with healthy microbes and micronutrients. Plus, and most importantly, it tastes great.
I was awakened to this new-old wave of sauerkraut after reading Burkhard Bilger’s profile of “fermentation fetishist” and raw food activist Sandor Katz, AKA Sandorkraut. He’s quite a passionate and fascinating guy, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, The Art of Fermentation, and Wild Fermentation. He argues that we’re killing ourselves with cleanliness: pasteurization, processing, packaged prepared consumables. He’s onto something; quite a bit of recent research points to our gut microbes acting as an 11th organ system. So fermented sauerkraut is something I’d want to eat just for the health benefits. But like I said, it tastes great. That’s what good eating is all about, really.
I’m completely addicted to Farmhouse Culture krauts, especially the horseradish and leek flavor. Raw, organic, and alive, it’s bursting with flavor with a nice dash of probiotics to boot. Here’s my lunch, a panini with olive oil, prosciutto, arugula, gruyere, plum paste, tomato, and horseradish leek sauerkraut. Talk about a flavor explosion:
Farmhouse Culture is a Santa Cruz company, but they have a pretty wide distribution and you can buy their products online. If you haven’t had sauerkraut in a while, I highly recommend trying them out. The horseradish leek is strongly flavored, like I said, as is the kimchi. The garlic dill pickle is a more mellow crunch, not overpowering at all, just like a nice crunchy dill. I guarantee you will go sweet on sauerkraut just like me.
- Listen to Bilger’s podcast about what he learned interviewing Katz.
- Participate in the Human Food Project’s American Gut
- Read “‘Fermentation’: When Food Goes Bad But Stays Good” from Fresh Air.
- Make your own sauerkraut recipe from this recipe by Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation.