Sauerkraut is a food that used to be very important during winter because its ingredients help prevent deficiencies.
The History of Sauerkraut
Lactic fermentation has been used for a very long time to preserve vegetables. This technique has been practiced in various regions of the world, both in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire as well as in China. A Korean variant of sauerkraut, which is called Kimchi, has been around since the 7th century.
In Central and Eastern Europe, sauerkraut was one of the most frequently processed foods during winter. This only changed with the adoption of newer methods of preservation. From the 18th century onwards, it was also increasingly taken on ship journeys for health reasons. The high content of vitamin C prevented scurvy.
Sauerkraut is rich in vitamins, especially A, B & C, minerals and lactic acid. It also has a low calorific value, only 4% carbohydrates and virtually no fat.
Sauerkraut production is a lengthy process that requires keeping oxygen away from the cabbage. First, the fresh white cabbage is cut into fine strips. Then it is mashed in a pot. The juice is removed and salt is added. This serves two purposes. It removes carbon during the fermentation process and preserves the cabbage.
The cabbage must be covered during fermentation, which takes between four and six weeks. If air is allowed into the sauerkraut, it will rot. Originally casks and earthenware pots were used for cooking.
Today extra bacteria are often added in sauerkraut production. This prevents faulty fermentation. Vitamin C is also often added to increase shelf life.