Advantages Of Sauerkraut
( Originally Published 1913 )
Sauerkraut is by some considered very indigestible. This is, however, not the case when it has been properly prepared. It is made by adding 3 per cent of common salt to white cabbage, which withdraws a quantity of fluid from the latter. All varieties of cabbage contain quite a considerable quantity of fluid. Heavy weights are laid upon the cabbage after packing it in kegs, and so much fluid is pressed out that the cabbage fairly bathes in it. When kept at a temperature of 11 ° C. it ferments by means of yeast and bacteria.; the sugar is fermented, and lactic acid is formed. This acts upon the fibers of the cabbage, and after a time they are softened. When it is very thoroughly cooked the fibers are still further softened, thus making out of this indigestible vegetable the much more digestible sauerkraut. It has, further, the advantage due to its lactic acid of exerting a kind of disinfecting process in the intestine. In many cases of intestinal catarrh, especially when large quantities of decomposition products are present, sauerkraut may have a favorable action, and I have several times observed very good results following its use. It might also be added that the pleasant sour taste has a stimulating effect upon the appetite, especially in cases where the stomach is in good condition. This applies also to cases in which the loss of appetite is due to such influences as depressed spirits, over-work, etc., in which cases, also, no gastric juice is secreted. Here the pleasantly piquant taste of sauerkraut may have a beneficial effect, and in several such cases I have had good results when one or two tablespoonfuls of sauerkraut were taken at the beginning of the meal. In order, however, that these beneficial effects may follow, care should be taken not to throw away all of the juice and then serve the sauerkraut quite dry, as is unfortunately frequently the case in restaurants and even in private houses. In this way the useful lactic acid con-tent is diminished; this juice also has a very refreshing and pleasant taste. When cleanliness is exercised in the preparation of sauerkraut this lactic-acid-laden juice would be a very useful drink, just as is the juice of pickled cucumbers. I found that when during the hot summer days I had no appetite I could stimulate it by taking a little of this juice. Of course, the salt has something to do with this. It is necessary that not more than 3 per cent. of salt be added. I have also noted that the addition of sour milk or cream or jogurt to the cooked sauerkraut was very useful, its nutritive value, which is other-wise not very great, being thereby increased. The same is the case when considerable butter is added. When the sauerkraut is of itself too sour, it may be improved by the addition of sweet milk, or by adding some tomato sauce, which is rather sweet. It could also be mixed with a little sugar.
Tomato sauerkraut is a very excellent and palatable food. It is not hard to digest, especially when sufficiently cooked, and it can be made even more digestible when it is cooked a second time. Many people are of the opinion that both sauerkraut and tomato sauerkraut taste better when warmed over a day or two after the first cooking; at all events they are certainly more easily digested in this way.
Like many other good things of this world sauerkraut—the tomato sauerkraut rather less—has a defect. It causes flatulence in many persons, but it has at the same time a favor-able effect upon the bowel movements. The salt content would be a disadvantage in cases of kidney diseases.