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Definition of Saucerkraut
"Sauerkraut (pronounced /ˈsaʊrkraʊt/, German: De-sauerkraut.ogg [ˈzaʊ.ɐ.kʁaʊt] (help·info), Yiddish: [ˈzɔi̯.əʀ.kʀɔi̯t]) is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. It is therefore not to be confused with coleslaw, which receives its acidic taste from vinegar."
The word comes directly from the German language, which literally translates to sour cabbage. Sauerkraut is traditional in German, Austrian, Slovenian, Croatian, Slovak, Polish (Kiszona Kapusta), Czech, Dutch (zuurkool), Estonian (hapukapsas), Latvian (skābi kāposti), Lithuanian (rauginti kopūstai), Danish (surkål), Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Belarusian cuisines. It is also part of the native cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino (capuzi garbi and crauti) in Northern Italy, and Alsace Lorraine in North Eastern France (choucroute). Finally, it is also popular in many parts of Northeast China, Northern China, the USA, Chile (chucrut), and Canada.
History of Fermentation of cabbages
A common dish found on ships(even pirates) and was prepared in the German manner, with water and salt. Sour Krout would keep for a long time and part of it's popularity was because it would prevent scurvy. Sea water was actually used to boil the cabbage to make the Sour Krout.
"Fermentation of cabbages in salt and acidic liquids dates back to prehistoric times and probably was described first by Pliny the Elder during the first century AD. Modern preparation techniques are thought to have been developed sometime between AD1550 and 1750."
"In his 1772 Treatise on Scurvy, James Lind discussed the ability of German seamen to withstand long sea voyages without succumbing to scurvy compared to seamen from other countries, and pointed to their consumption of fermented cabbage as a defining difference.
In 1776, Captain James Cook was awarded the Copley Medal for demonstrating that sauerkraut could be used to allay scurvy in British crews on long sea voyages.
"Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers are made. Fully-cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at or below 15°C (59°F). Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments may prolong storage life. However, pasteurization will destroy all of the beneficial digestive enzymes and lactic acid bacteria, as well as the valuable vitamin C content, so it greatly diminishes the nutritional value without any significant benefit."
"No special culture of lactic acid bacteria is needed because these bacteria already are present on raw cabbage. Yeasts also are present, and may yield soft sauerkraut of poor flavor when the fermentation temperature is too high. The fermentation process has three phases. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acid environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species including L. brevis and L. plantarum ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH."
"Salt (sodium chloride) is a major component in both the fermentation process and the flavour profile of sauerkraut, and typically is added in proportions between 0.6% and 2% relative to the amount of cabbage. For preparation at home, the USDA recommends a greater amount of salt than is traditional, making the sauerkraut unpalatably salty unless rinsed before eating. Such rinsing removes much of the nutrient content and flavor. When traditional amounts of salt are used, temperature control is critical, because spoilage leading to food poisoning can occur if the fermentation temperature is too high. However, once made, sauerkraut is a very safe food because its high acidity prevents spoilage. USDA also recommends pasteurizing sauerkraut for storage. This is not necessary if the raw sauerkraut has been properly made and stored, and will needlessly diminish the nutritional value. A slimy or excessively soft texture, discoloration, or off-flavor may indicate spoilage."
Fermented and preserved
"Cabbage is the basis for the German sauerkraut, Chinese suan cai and Korean kimchi. To pickle cabbage it is cut fine, placed in a jar, covered with a brine made of its own juice with salt, and left in a warm place for several weeks to ferment. Sauerkraut (colloquially simply "kraut") was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. The word comes from German sauer (sour) and kraut (plant or cabbage) (Old High German sūr and krūt). Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables. (Turnips can be cured in the same way.) Korean baechu kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chillies, papaya, gin, minced garlic and ginger is common.
Health benefits of sauerkraut
"Raw sauerkraut is an extremely healthful food. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, lactobacilli, and other nutrients. However, the low pH and abundance of otherwise healthful lactobacilli may upset the intestines of people who are not used to eating acidic foods. (In such cases, it is advisable to eat small amounts daily until the person's digestive system adjusts.) Studies suggest that fermented cabbage may be even more healthy than the raw vegtable, with increased levels of anti-cancer agents such as isothiocyanates."
"Before frozen foods and the importation of foods from the Southern hemisphere became readily available in northern and central Europe, sauerkraut provided a vital source of the aforementioned nutrients during the winter. Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it was an effective preventative of scurvy."
"It is now known that the preservation of sauerkraut in an anaerobic environment (in the brine) keeps the vitamin C in it from being oxidized. There is some evidence that indicates that kimchi, and by extension sauerkraut, may be used to treat avian influenza in birds. Currently, there is no evidence of its effect on human cases."
"Sauerkraut is also a source of biogenic amines such as tyramine, which may cause adverse reactions in sensitive people. It also provides various cancer-fighting compounds including ITC and sulphoraphane."
"Sauerkraut juice is also credited with high medical qualities; its consumption is recommended for flu prevention, as a gastroregulator for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, from diarrhea to constipation, ulcers, bronchitis and various other digestive and respiratory diseases and disorders, anemia, but its most popular use in the regions where it's produced has always been as a major remedy against hangover, since it not only drives away the headache, but it also neutralises the effects of alcoholic intoxication on the stomach and intestinal mucosa and cleans the liver."
Health and nutrition of cabbage
"Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties."
"It is a source of indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, a compound used as an adjuvent therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death."
In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women."
"Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers- "
"Sauerkraut may be eaten raw and unadorned; in this form it is often eaten as a relish with meat dishes. Raw sauerkraut dressed with oil and onions is served as a salad, while warmed sauerkraut is also commonly served on a Reuben sandwich." (types of sandwiches)
There are many other vegetables that are preserved by a similar process.
There is a dessert known as sauerkraut candy which is a penuche made with coconut flakes. While this candy resembles sauerkraut visually, it does not necessarily contain sauerkraut as an ingredient.
Also a feed for cattle, silage, is made the same way.
Are you thinking about serving this dish at a party or dinner?