How to Make Sauerkraut

The famous traditional German recipe sauerkraut is made from cabbage. To be more precise, it is a lacto-fermented cabbage dish and a popular delicacy that has many health benefits as well.
Tastessence Staff
A traditional German food, sauerkraut is prepared from shredded cabbage that is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. Its sour flavor and long shelf life are a result of the lactic acid that is formed when bacteria ferment the sugars present inside the cabbage. Sauerkraut in German means 'sour cabbage'. It is a popular dish in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Poland, and all the countries around Germany. It has slowly gained popularity in China, Chile, Canada, and U.S., as well. Scroll down to know about its health benefits and some recipes to prepare it.
Basic Sauerkraut Recipe

Ingredients
  • Medium-sized cabbage, 1 kg
  • Kefir whey, 4 tbsp.
  • Sea salt, 1 tbsp.
  • Caraway seeds or fresh chopped dill, 1 tbsp.
  • A glass jar with a plastic lid
Instructions
  1. Grate the cabbage with the help of a hand grater or process it in a food processor.
  2. Mix the grated cabbage with salt and kefir whey in a large food-grade plastic bucket.
  3. Pound the mixture with the help of a meat mallet or wooden pounder until the juices cause suction when you pull the pounder out of the mixture.
  4. Put the mixture in a clean glass jar and press until the juice rises to the top and the mixture is below it.
  5. Leave behind at least one inch of space for expansion.
  6. It is time to store the kraut now. Cover the jar fully, store it in a cupboard for 3 - 4 days, and then put it in the refrigerator.
  7. Let it ferment for a couple of weeks and then the sauerkraut is ready for consumption.

Variations

Everybody has their own way of making sauerkraut. People generally don't make plain sauerkraut and tend to add many other vegetables, which may be prepared separately. The style differs in different countries. Many people mix juniper berries whereas some mix pickling spice, peppercorns, ginger root, lemons, etc. Enlisted below are a few vegetables that you can add depending upon your choice and flavor preference.
  • Pumpkin
  • Root vegetables
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Horseradish

All other vegetables should be used raw, except green or yellow wax beans. Cook them for at least 5 minutes before pickling.
Sauerkraut Reuben Casserole

Ingredients
  • Cream of mushroom soup, 2 cans
  • Rinsed and drained sauerkraut (16 oz.), 2 cans
  • Uncooked medium noodles, (8 oz.), 1 package
  • Polish sausage, 1½ lb.
  • Swiss cheese (8 oz.), 2 cups
  • Milk, 1⅓ cups
  • Whole bread crumbs, ¾ cup
  • Chopped onion, ½ cup
  • Melted butter, 2 tbsp.
  • Prepared mustard, 1 tbsp.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease the baking dish.
  2. Mix soup, milk, onion, and mustard in a bowl and blend well.
  3. Top the prepared dish with sauerkraut followed by topping it with uncooked noodles.
  4. Over it, spoon the soup mixture and cover with the sausages. Finally, top it with shredded Swiss cheese.
  5. Add bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl and spread it over the casserole.
  6. Cover the dish properly with a foil and bake for about an hour until the noodles turn soft.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
  • Rich in vitamin C, minerals, and phytochemicals that are formed as a result of the fermentation process.
  • It boosts the immune system of the body and helps fight cancer.
  • Maintains a balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, thus, aiding in digestion.
  • Also, helps in fighting avian or bird flu.

Fermented cabbage is loaded with health benefits that cannot be underestimated. It is rich in vitamin C and hence very useful in preventing diseases like scurvy. Did you know that Captain James Cook prevented the death of many of his sailors from scurvy by serving them sauerkraut. This delicacy is also a popular serving along with beer in the famous German festival 'Oktoberfest'. So, do try the above-mentioned recipes and enjoy this German delicacy anytime, anywhere.