Sauerkraut

Cooking it, growing it, eating it. Tell us your favourite recipes and tips, or ask for ideas.
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Cooking it, growing it, eating it. Tell us your favourite recipes and tips, or ask for ideas.

Sauerkraut

Postby Sprocket » July 29th, 2013, 5:14 pm

As I mentioned on another thread at the time, I made sauerkraut for the first time last year - and having made it, tasted it for the first time, and decided it was delicious, as well as very good for me. That time, I improvised with a large plastic tub and a weighted saucer to keep the cabbage under the liquid that forms, but I decided a few weeks ago that, if I was going to make the stuff regularly, I ought to have a proper sauerkraut pot to make it in. I googled, and found a German website (thankfully with an English version) dedicated to them. They had some beautiful ones, unfortunately at eye-watering prices, but I liked a plain green 3-litre one. However, when I tried to order one on Friday, I discovered that they have a stupidly over-complicated ordering system: you don't just click on an "add to basket" button, then go to checkout and pay with your credit card; you have to submit an initial order form and wait for them to contact you. "Sod that for a game of soldiers", I thought to myself thought I, so I googled again, and came up with a range of them in 5, 10, and 15 litre sizes on Amazon, and decided to go for the 5-litre model. 5 litres is 9 pints, rather more than a gallon, which is probably bigger than I need, but there's no harm in having spare capacity.
I've read up about sauerkraut on Wikipedia, as well as elsewhere, and it appears to be extremely good for you: It has effectively more vitamin C weight-for-weight than fresh cabbage, because the fermentation process makes the vit. C more available to the body - the gut can absorb it more efficiently. It also contains lots of friendly bacteria, of the same kind that you get in live yoghurt, which are good for the digestion, and there is some evidence, though it's not yet proven, that it may offer some protection against some cancers. Just as well I love the stuff; I think it's a Marmite food: you love it or hate it, no in-between.
I've just received an email from Amazon, saying that it's been despatched, although my estimated delivery date is still 20th August: well, fair enough, I suppose, if they've got to bring it all the way from the Amazon... I hope mine doesn't have a great big hole in the side, like the one in the second photo! Note the gutter, around the rim: that's an ingenious way of making it air-proof, while allowing gas produced by the fermentation to escape from the inside. The top fits into the gutter, and you then add a little water.
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Bev » July 30th, 2013, 6:25 pm

Very interesting. What is the crock made of? It looks plastic. Also, by the look of it, it seems the process requires protection from light.

I love sauerkraut, always have. It's a great accompaniment to especially knockwurst on pumpernickel bread with spicy mustard. Yum. My father in law, God rest him, had me prepare a dish for him once that involved sauerkraut. I had to rinse it until all the sour taste was gone. I then sautéed it in the grease from a pound of cut up bacon and a pound of kielbasa cut into 1-inch pieces. By the end, the sauerkraut was a glazy light brown color. It was delicious, but not all that great for the arteries! :shock: He was full Polish, btw.
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Sprocket » July 30th, 2013, 9:01 pm

I thought it looked plastic as well, but I think it's earthenware. Sauerkraut, knockwurst and pumpernickel - evocative names!
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Bev » July 30th, 2013, 9:49 pm

:lol:

Well, I've looked up how to make sauerkraut, and I'm thinking of trying my hand at it. One article talked about how "canning" the kraut defeats the purpose of the live bacteria.

Here, crocks are expensive!! One similar to yours, if not the very same one is $128.00. :shock: The cheapest one I found was this one.

If I do give it a try, I'll post results here.

Btw, what spices--if any--do you add? I saw one recipe that added only diced apple to the brined cabbage. That sounded so good to me.
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby GregB » July 30th, 2013, 10:38 pm

Sprocket wrote:I thought it looked plastic as well, but I think it's earthenware. Sauerkraut, knockwurst and pumpernickel - evocative names!

They're only evocative names because they are non-English (German, in fact.) As I've commented elsewhere recently*, employing a foreign name in cookery tends to bestow an exotic aura on the product. I once saw on the menu of a restaurant here, otherwise in Spanish, the inclusion of the word 'kartoffeln' as a part of the main dish, which might have sounded appealing to those who were unaware that it is simply the German word for potatoes. Recipes, especially by experts in the media, often feature rich, almost literary language, which I suspect has a kind of subliminal Freudian influence to enhance the quality of, and arouse the interest in, what is essentially nutritional sustenance for all its paraded variety. It just gets the juices satisfyingly flowing, as erotic language does to arouse sexuality. Anything to make life more interesting... :roll:

Bev wrote:
My father in law, God rest him, had me prepare a dish for him once that involved sauerkraut. I had to rinse it until all the sour taste was gone. I then sautéed it in the grease from a pound of cut up bacon and a pound of kielbasa cut into 1-inch pieces. By the end, the sauerkraut was a glazy light brown color. It was delicious, but not all that great for the arteries!

This seems to be a variation of what is called in parts of Britain 'bubble and squeak' and here in Catalonia 'trinchat', which is basically boiled cabbage (why call it 'kraut'? - that's just what the Krauts call it :mrgreen: ) and kartoffeln...sorry, potatoes...fried in a compact mass. Here, pork products (eg. cold cuts, chunks of fatty bacon, etc.) are added for flavour. ('Kielbasa' is just Polish sausage, of course. There are similar products here with local names.) Oh, and is there any essential difference between 'sauté' and 'fry'...? :grin:


* And not only in food:
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Bev » July 30th, 2013, 11:03 pm

I've heard of "bubble and squeak." I suspect the brined, fermented cabbage makes the difference, even if my father in law insisted on rinsing it.

I make a version of bubble and squeak here, but it's simpler. I cook bacon, then crumble it into red cabbage (cut into stringy strips) that I sauté in olive oil. Healthier, and the bacon adds great flavor without adding all the fat.

Here, we've always thought that all things cabbage and bacon was an Irish dish.
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby GregB » July 30th, 2013, 11:22 pm

I've heard of "bubble and squeak." I suspect the brined, fermented cabbage makes the difference, even if my father in law insisted on rinsing it.

Yes, it struck me that if you rinse off the sour coating, getting rid of its taste, you might as well use ordinary boiled cabbage! As you suggest, the fermented cabbage must retain something of a special flavour, despite the rinsing.
Here, we've always thought that all things cabbage and bacon was an Irish dish.

Not here (well, in the UK, I mean.) We think of potatoes as the Irish culinary staple.

Can I just repeat my earlier question, by the way: "Is there any essential difference between 'sauté' and 'fry'...?" If it's a case of only lightly frying the product, we already have a word in English - to 'brown' (eg. potatoes.)
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby different glory » July 31st, 2013, 8:15 am

This is a fascinating and almost inspiring thread! If I were at home, I think I'd be following Bev in following Sprocket and attempting to make some sauerkraut. :) We had a crock when I was a child, and I like sauerkraut, though never till now have thought of making my own. I'll have to investigate the crock construction.

Also, I love bubble and squeak! :) and "saute" I have always understood as meaning "to fry over a mild heat, with a gentle jiggling motion of the pan, so that the things being fried 'jump' about a bit"
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Sprocket » July 31st, 2013, 8:23 am

Bev wrote::lol:

Well, I've looked up how to make sauerkraut, and I'm thinking of trying my hand at it. One article talked about how "canning" the kraut defeats the purpose of the live bacteria.

Here, crocks are expensive!! One similar to yours, if not the very same one is $128.00. :shock: The cheapest one I found was this one.

If I do give it a try, I'll post results here.

Btw, what spices--if any--do you add? I saw one recipe that added only diced apple to the brined cabbage. That sounded so good to me.

Canning, or bottling, the sauerkraut, if you heat-sterilise the sk beforehand, will make it last much longer, but kills the live bacteria which are part of what makes it good for you, and also, apparently, destroys some of the flavour. Unsterilised, it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, and I think if you sterilise your Kilner jars (Mason jars in America), and seal it in them with little air space, it'll keep longer until opened. However, I'm mainly going on what I've read recently, not personal experience, having (so far) only made it once. As for additions: as I understand it, basic sauerkraut is made from just cabbage and salt, but you can add other things, sliced apples and garlic being two I've read suggested more than once. Korea has a traditional dish called Kimchi, which is their version of sauerkraut, with lots of spices added. Since the 16th Century, when chillies were introduced to Korea, according to one account I read, they've been a major ingredient, and kimchi can be very hot.
Greg - yes, foreign names in cookery do sound exotic, and are sometimes used instead of a perfectly good English names for pretentious reasons, of course, but not always. I think 'knockwurst', for example, is a distinctive German style of sausage. One example, possibly apocryphal, I heard of of extreme pretentiousness was a restaurant whose menu included "pommes de terre frite a l'anglais", which turned out to mean chips! (or fries, as our American chums call them). Pretentious or not, I love the musical-sounding Italian names for various pasta shapes: vermicelli (little worms! :shock: ), radiattori (which look like car radiators), fusilli, conchigli, tagliatelli, etc. (Please excuse any spelling mistakes in those names).
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Re: Sauerkraut

Postby Bev » July 31st, 2013, 3:28 pm

Greg, my understanding has always been that to sauté one stirs over heat with a small amount of oil. The Chinese do this over high heat in a Wok. Either way, it's a fairly quick process. To fry, one uses more oil and does not stir but will turn to cook on the other side if the oil does not cover the food. If you submerge the food in hot oil, we call this deep frying. Here, we usually use the term "brown" when frying anything on high heat to give color to the food that will finish cooking by another means. Meats are often browned before braising or roasting in a covered pan in the oven.

Sprocket, Chris and I tasted Kimchi last year when we stopped in to investigate a small oriental grocery near where he lives. They let us sample it. It was quite strong. Not bad, but not good enough for me to want to buy it. My understanding is the traditional way to make Kimchi is to bury the crock for a long time, six months to a year.

I'll be interested to learn what you find out on crocks, DG!

Another site I found mentions first combining the cabbage and salt, then mixing until the salt extracts enough juice from the cabbage to make the brine--as opposed to submerging the cabbage in salted water. If I make my own, I will try the former method, as I suspect the flavor will be very different--better. Apples and garlic together sound really delicious. I might try that, but first I have to get a crock. :x
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