Most people either really love sauerkraut or are not the biggest fan. Whatever category you fall into, you have likely, at one point, wondered, “What is sauerkraut”? Lucky for you, you no longer need to wonder, as we have the answer.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a German word that literally means, “sour cabbage”. Since we have just answered “What is sauerkraut?” we can probably stop here… but we are not going to. We think this food deserves a little more time and explanation.
Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. When properly stored, 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.
Let’s take a deeper dive at some interesting, and mostly unknown, facts about sauerkraut.
- The Origin: Since the term sauerkraut is German, many people think that this food was first introduced in the German cuisine, which is actually not true. It was the Chinese who first fermented cabbage in rice wine over 2,000 years ago. Not until the 16th century did the Europeans adopt this habit of fermenting cabbage in its own juices, thus creating what we know today as sauerkraut.
- Introduction to the United States: The word “sauerkraut” was first mentioned in the American English Dictionary in 1776. During World War I, due to concerns that the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product “Liberty Cabbage.”
- Health Impacts: Sauerkraut has many health benefits and is actually very good for your body. Sauerkraut contains live and active probiotics that act like your first line of defense against various harmful bacteria or toxins that might enter your body. Sauerkraut is also high in digestive enzymes that help to break down starches, proteins, and fats. Sauerkraut has high levels of Vitamin C, for collagen production and as a natural antioxidant for immune system support. Sauerkraut has many other health benefits.
- Consumption Statistics: Americans consume 387 million pounds of sauerkraut annually or 1.5 pounds per person per year. In Germany, the average per capita consumption of sauerkraut is approximately 2.6 pounds per person.
- Traditions: Sauerkraut is widely served at German festivals throughout the United States. There are also festivals to celebrate this “sour cabbage” dish. The Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, usually hosted in October, serves 7 tons of sauerkraut and attracts approximately 350,000 visitors each year. Eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day is also a long-standing tradition both in Germany and in areas of the US. This is to “ensure as much goodness and wealth in the new year as the number of shreds of cabbage in the pot of sauerkraut.” This is a German custom.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding as to what sauerkraut is and can share some of these fun facts next time you are enjoying this dish.
If you are looking for some German style sauerkraut to add to your next meal, Five Star Sausage has got you covered. We take great pride in making our German style sauerkraut by using fresh farm cabbage which we hand pick from our gardens. Using pure water from Ohio Nelson Ledges state park makes our sauerkraut always fresh and crunchy!
We use all natural ingredients to make our sauerkraut, and that is our secret for the perfect taste. Always fresh with the perfect texture. Our flavorful and balanced recipe was passed on to our family from several generations ago. Order some today.