Think of sauerkraut and images of a traditional German dish with bratwurst might pop into your head. But this crunchy cabbage salad has recently come into its own as a delicious probiotic dish that can help maintain healthy tummies, and it is also winning votes among vegetarians and vegans as well.
Simon Arnold, of Arnold's Condiments, has witnessed so much interest in sauerkraut in this country that he and his wife, Karen, are now producing it in ever increasing batches on a weekly basis at their purpose-built production facility near Petworth in Sussex.
“I lived in Germany for 25 years and ate sauerkraut regularly, but only over the last six or seven realised the health benefits of it,” says Simon, a former engineer for Mercedes-Benz in Germany. “It is packed with vitamin C and naturally contains probiotics which are believed to stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can lead to improved physical and mental health.”
Mondays and Tuesdays are sauerkraut making days at Arnold Condiments, when white cabbage is shredded and covered in sea salt, drawing out the natural liquids. The shredded cabbage is then submerged in its own liquid and left to ferment for up to eight weeks, depending on ambient temperatures. The sauerkraut is made from scratch, in small batches from organic locally sourced vegetables, and is ready to eat straight from the jar.
“Sauerkraut is similar to a coleslaw, but with deeper health benefits and can be eaten with so many things, not just sausages,” says Simon, who personally only eats plant-based foods. “But it is great with cold meats and all types of cheese, and is a quick salad side dish – or try it with veggie sausages, in a burrito or wrap, or even alongside your morning full English. And it will definitely wake up any leftover turkey on Boxing Day.”
Kimchi-Kraut is the spicy sidekick of Sauerkraut, but based on the traditional Korean dish and packed with tongue-tingling ginger, garlic and chillies. Kimchi is a stable food among Koreans who have long known that it is good for digestion. Apparently, it is so common in their diet that instead of saying `cheese’ when posing for photos, Koreans say `kimchi’. Try this spicy sauerkraut with fried rice, or wake up those taste buds next time you have a veggie burger. Or, says Simon, try it on top of toast which has been spread with peanut butter – a perfect feast when you are next raiding the fridge at midnight.
“There are one thousand and one ways you can eat these fermented products but most of our customers have only just scratched the surface,” he says.
The sauerkraut is available to buy online from Arnold’s Condiments’ website, under the brand name The Sauerkraut Company, where you can also find loads of ideas of how to eat it. It is also available via Amazon & eBay. Once your jars arrive, pop them in the fridge which will slow the fermentation process down and keep your kraut deliciously fresh & crunchy. There is only one basic rule to eating sauerkraut and that is never heat it, as this will kill all those lovely good bacteria.