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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

"Sauerkraut anyone?"

"Fermented cabbage for dinner, anyone? Come on eat up!" Sauerkraut is exactly that - fermented cabbage and it is one of those 'love it or hate it or sorry never even tried it' kind of foods. However it has fans worldwide and although often associated with German cuisine the roots and action of fermentation of finely shredded cabbage actually goes back to ancient China.

Sauerkraut means 'sour cabbage' and it is made using a very simple procedure involving wild fermentation. In effect it requires no live starter to begin the process. Salt is added to the finely shredded cabbage and this draws out water from the vegetable. Naturally occurring bacteria present in the cabbage react with the resulting brine and this causes the cabbage to ferment and take on its sour flavour. Although it can be purchased in jars and cans, fresh sauerkraut has a superior flavour.

On our recent trip to Karlsruhe my friend Emma and I were keen to experience as much of the ordinary life of an average German as possible and we enjoyed browsing in some of the shops off the beaten track. Just off the main shopping thoroughfare we encountered a small independent supermarket with boxes of vegetables and fruits placed outside. It was the first time we had ever seen sauerkraut sold in bags before and amused ourselves with a daft photo opportunity. My grumpy face is supposed to be illustrated a 'sour' mood. We half expected the veg police to come to arrest us for messing with the sauerkraut.  For some interesting and simple sauerkraut recipes check this site.

'Sauerkraut has a clean but pleasantly sour/tart flavour that is good for cutting through the fattiness of some meats. It can make a refreshing side dish to sausages, ham and bacon and can be eaten cold in salads and sandwiches.' 1001 Foods you must try before you die.

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