To the tune of Wild Thing

you force my gas out
you make everything spicy
sauerkraut, I think I love you"

From the Royal Canadian Air Farce I believe this was during the "International House of Sauerkraut Sketch"

Sauerkraut is a tangy shredded cabbage, tasty on hotdogs or on it's own. It's also good in Sauerkraut Soup. It's also the key ingrediant in a Reuben Sandwich
Sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbage. Sounds like good food to me! It is believed to have originated in China during the building of the Great Wall to supplement the almost all rice diet of the workers. Sauerkraut is incredibly easy to make given the patience and proper equipment. It basically involves drawing the moisture out of the cabbage. Bacteria then eat the sugars and release lactic accid.

To start, you need some cabbage. Remove the outer leaves and shred or cut the cabbage into thin strands. Rinse this well in cold water several times to remove any dirt. Next you will need a crock or food grade plastic container. They also sell special containers for this which have a stopper, you might want to consider using one of these to simplify the weighting process. You should not use a metal container as the acids produced may damage it as well as make your Sauerkraut taste really bad. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage with coarse (kosher or sea) salt. You'll need a little less than 1/3 cup per 5 lbs of cabbage. Once it is well mixed, add the cabbage to your crock/container a few inches at a time. Press each layer down with a lot of pressure, this should release juices. Do one layer at a time until all the cabbage is in the crock.

Once you are finished, the juice should be above the top of the cabbage. If not, as it frequently won't be, you'll need to add a brine. Boil 4 cups of water with 1.5 tablespoons of salt to make the brine and allow it to cool completely. Add to crock until it completely covers the cabbage. Now you are ready to weight down the cabbage. If you can't find a plate or disk that will fit, fill a bag with water and arrange it to completely cover the surface. If there is exposure to air, mold may grow on the surface (this can be skimmed off). Seal the top of the crock with plastic wrap and set it in a cool place out of the light.

Now you are ready to let it sit. At room temperature (70-75 F) it will take 3-4 weeks. It's done when there are no more bubbles in the pot and no bubbles come to the surface when you tap on the pot.

Serve cold for crunchy tart kraut, or cook to make it more mild. Enjoy!

On a side note, Sauerkraut has almost no nutritional value... One cup of it has about 40 calories and a tiny bit of dietary fiber, some sodium, and not much else...

(German "sauer", sour or acid, as in "salzsäure", hydrochloric acid; "kraut", greens or herbs).

According to The Body Ecology Diet (see below), uncooked and unsalted sauerkraut is "an excellent source of vitamin C". A second resource (URL cited below) indicates that 100g of raw cabbage contains 53.7% of the US RDA of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and some folacin, potassium, and dietary fiber. The more interesting aspect of sauerkraut is its lactobacillus (acidophilus) and enzyme content, and unfortunately, these are killed/destroyed in pasteurization of the familiar jarred sauerkraut. The author, Donna Gates, offers the following "beginner's recipe" for preparing homemade sauerkraut (passed down to her from Evan Richards of Rejuvenative Foods in Santa Cruz, CA):

Use fresh, crisp, flavorful, well-cleaned vegetables that are "not too mature". Grind up a minimum of 10 heads of organic cabbages (rinsed and shaken to remove excess water), 2 green to one red, in a food processor. Then place them in a stainless steel mixing bowl and pound with a heavy, blunt object until they become a little juicy. While beating, add 3/4 to one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (more vitamin C), and 3 tbsp. of dried dill, for every 3 heads of cabbage. Put this mixture in a crock or stainless steel stockpot. Don't completely fill the pot, as the fermentation will expand the sauerkraut. Completely cover it with at least two layers of cabbage leaves, weigh down the leaves evenly with as wide a plate as possible, and press down to compress the cabbage. Weigh the plate down further (Gates recommends a closed jar of 2/3 pint of water for weight), to keep the pressure even, but not so much that the juice is forced above the fermenting cabbage. Cover the pot with a clean towel (keeps bugs and airborne mold spores out), and let ferment in a well-ventilated room, 60-70° F, for 5-7 days (5-6 days at 70°, 6-7 at 60°). Check a few times in the first day-and-a-half to make sure the plate is resting evenly on the cabbage.
When you're done fermenting your 'kraut, discard the leaves and any discolored cabbage on top, and refrigerate it in glass jars. It should be brightly colored, juicy, and sweet. It should keep 4-8 months at 34° F. Do not freeze it or cook it, as these destroy the healthy bacteria and enzymes - and they're the whole point.

Gates suggests variations with the addition of beets, carrots, garlic, celery, onions, and/or red pepper; sea vegetables like kelp, hijiki, and arame; dill, caraway, juniper berries, and thyme; and even replacing the cabbage entirely with daikon. If you use other vegetables, layer them in the cabbage. I suppose bok choy would work just as well.

Gates further claims that this homemade sauerkraut helps alleviate morning sickness, and that small spoonsful of the juice can be fed to baby to help relieve colic.

The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering your health & rebuilding your immunity, 6th edition, by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz. ©1996 by Donna Gates, published by B.E.D. Publications, Atlanta, GA.,%20RAW

What, no recipes?

Uncooked and unsalted sauerkraut may be very healthy, like ModernAngel states, but personally I don't much like the stuff in its pure state. Too sour. (Did you know, health food stores sell sauerkraut juice. Juice. *shudder*). What sauerkraut needs is to be diluted. Potatoes do a good job of this, as do greasy foods, and pork fat is the champion. Combine all of these foodstuffs, and you get something very tasty indeed! I shall give two recipes here, one a rather simple sauerkraut stamppot and the other a casserole with banana that my mother often makes in winter. The sweet banana gives a nice contrast with the sour sauerkraut and the hearty meat. If you don't like banana, you could try making it with chunks of pineapple.

For each dish, for two people you need 500-700 grams of potatoes, made into mash and 400-500 grams of sauerkraut.

For the stamppot, either mix the raw sauerkraut through the mashed potatoes (the healthier option) or boil the potatoes together with the sauerkraut until the potatoes are done and them mash them up together. To this mixture, add 100-150 grams of smoked bacon, streaky if you can get it, cut into small pieces and fried until brown. Add them to the stamppot together with the frying grease and mix everything well. Serve with pork sausages and lots of mustard.

For the casserole, take an oven proof dish and spread half of the mashed potatoes out on the bottom. Put the sauerkraut in a layer on top of this. Cut two peeled bananas into slices and put these on top of the sauerkraut. Fry 250 grams of minced meat (either beef or half beef, half pork) together with a diced onion until the meat is brown and the onion soft. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Put all of this in a layer in the oven dish. Cover with the remaining mashed potatoes and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Put small flakes of butter here and there (to help brown the bread crumbs) and put the casserole into a moderately hot oven until the bread crumbs are brown and crispy. When serving, make sure that each person gets a bit of every layer.

Sauer"kraut` (?), n. [G., fr. sauer sour + kraut herb, cabbage.]

Cabbage cut fine and allowed to ferment in a brine made of its own juice with salt, -- a German dish.


© Webster 1913.

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