for a great post on health benefits deriving from the consumption of sauerkraut and other probiotics
Sauerkraut (/ˈsaʊərkraʊt/; German pronunciation: [ˈzaʊ.ɐˌkʁaʊt] ( listen)), directly translated: “sour cabbage”, is finely cutcabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. Sauerkraut is also used as a condiment upon various foods, such as meat dishes and hot dogs.[
Fermented foods have a long history in many cultures. Today, two of the most well-known instances of traditional fermented cabbage side dishes are sauerkraut and Korean kimchi. The Roman writers Cato (in his De Agri Cultura) and Columella (in his De re Rustica) mentioned preserving cabbages and turnips with salt. It is believed to have been introduced to Europe in its present form 1,000 years later by Genghis Khan after invading China. The Tartars took it in their saddlebags to Europe. There it took root mostly in Eastern European and Germanic cuisines, but also in other countries including France, where the name became choucroute.
Before frozen foods, refrigeration, and cheap transport from warmer areas became readily available in northern and central Europe, sauerkraut, like other preserved foods, provided a source of nutrients during the winter. James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him it preventedscurvy.
In Germany, sauerkraut is often flavored with juniper berries. Traditionally it is served with pork, Strasbourg sausage or frankfurters, bacon, smoked pork or smoked Morteau or Montbéliard sausages, accompanied typically by roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings.
Sauerkraut is the most important ingredient in the shchi, a traditional soup of Russia where it has been known as far back as the 9th century, the time of the import of cabbage from Byzantium.