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Sauerkraut: The Zingy German Condiment

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a German staple; a popular condiment for hotdogs and one of our favorite sides which complements a multitude of savory meals. Let’s dig into this article to get to know this fermented cabbage a bit more closely.

What is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut, literally called “sour cabbage” in German, is exactly what it is. The “sour” comes from lactic acid fermentation undergone by cabbage under an oxygen-deprived environment rather than with any added vinegar or citric acid. 

History of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has been an integral part of German cuisine since the 1600s. While its origin is reported to be from China where it was initially prepared in rice wine some 2000 years ago, it is reported that the workers building the Great Wall of China survived only on sauerkraut and rice while working in extreme winter conditions. Before modern refrigeration, foods were pickled, dried, or cured to extend their shelf life. 

Image Credit: Volker Gröschl from Pixabay 

How to Make Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is traditionally prepared from salt curing the finely shredded cabbage until it releases brine water. The cabbage is then left to ferment in its brine water in a tightly sealed container for around two days or for months, depending upon the desired tanginess. The longer you let it ferment, the more acidic and tangy it becomes.

What does Sauerkraut Taste Like?

Sauerkraut offers a salty, sour, and acidic taste as present in other fermented foods like pickles and kimchi. However, it’s not spicy, umami, or fishy at all. While kimchi is saltier and sour, sauerkraut is less salty and more acidic.

Uses of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is an amazing condiment for your meals for adding a desirable sour kick. You can enjoy sauerkraut in sandwiches, salads, soups, and alongside steaks. Alternatively, sauerkraut can be stacked over swiss cheese and wheat crackers for a healthy snack. This fermented product makes some comforting traditional soups in various cuisines. From German sauerkraut soup to shchi, the Russian national dish, and kwaśnica, the Polish cabbage soup- sauerkraut adds just the right amount of zing to almost any savory meal.

German Beer Brats are considered one of the top dishes featuring sauerkraut in which bratwurst sausages are simmered in beer followed by grilling. These brats are served hotdog style with mustard, sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and sides including either roasted potatoes or coleslaw.

Sauerkraut pairs well with any type of cured meat including salami, prosciutto, chorizo, mortadella, Bratwurst, and andouille to name a few. Moreover, you can get your hands on this heavenly delicious Reuben Style Pork Chop recipe that is bursting with sauerkraut. Or try the classic Reuben sandwiches from North America. While the French and Russians enjoy sauerkraut with pork, Americans like to have it in their sandwiches and hotdogs.

Feature Image: Flickr user jules:stonesoup ( CC BY 2.0 )

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