Traditional cultures have long used fermentation to preserve food as a matter of survival. What are you going to do with all that cabbage when the harvest comes in otherwise? Brilliantly our forefathers figured out that if you preserved the cabbage in vinegar and natural salt along with a few other ingredients you could extend your food supply without the help of refrigeration and you could increase your nutritional intake.
Why? Glad you asked. When you ferment the cabbage the microbes predigest nutrients in the cabbage making them more readily available to you. Sauerkraut has 20 times more bio-available vitamin C than the raw vegetable. This information comes from a wonderful book I just read by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth. It's strange to think our grandparents ate fermented foods on a daily basis and now we hardly ever do it. Even when you purchase sauerkraut it is not even close to the kind you ferment yourself.
You are already familiar with some of my favorite fermented foods including kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, wine (ahem!), naturally made beer and kvass. One of my personal favorites is Kombucha introduced to me by my daughter Rachel when she was living in Portland. She encouraged me to try it and I am somewhat ashamed to admit I got a little buzz from drinking it. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with tea (obviously) and mushrooms and other ingredients. Kombucha is renowned as a natural detoxifier. If you are not careful about your Kombucha drinking habits you can detox a little too quickly and then you will have to make a run for it!! Well, it works!
So stay tuned because I have kefir and yogurt on the brew right now and will be shortly making sourdough starter. Bring on the nutrients!!!