The German wish for happiness sounds like “Live well, eat cabbage” (“Leb wohl, ess Kohl”). Cabbage is the main German side dish. It is eaten with meat, poultry, fish, and even potatoes.
In Germany, both fresh cabbage and sauerkraut are respected. Christmas dinner is not conceivable in this country without a knuckle with cabbage: in German cuisine, its combination with pork meat is reverently treated.
Traditional German cabbage is sauerkraut, stewed in a special way. This dish has several advantages:
- it’s easy to cook;
- the ingredients for its preparation are inexpensive and available;
- its peculiar sour taste is perfectly combined with beer and such popular products in Germany (and abroad) as sausages, sausages, pork ribs, chops, ham;
- It can serve as a side dish, can be part of a salad, can replace a full lunch or dinner because it is often stewed with sausages, ribs, and pieces of meat.
Traditionally, cabbage was left to ferment under pressure in clay pots immersed in water. The conservation process took up to 6 weeks. Since the second half of the XIX century. sauerkraut began to be produced on an industrial scale — now it can be bought in many German stores.
German sauerkraut is fermented without carrots, with salt, sometimes with vinegar. Sauerkraut in Germany is stewed, fried, and even boiled. This side dish is very popular both in Germany and in other countries. Lovers of sour cabbage and hearty pork meat, having once tried this combination in German restaurants, cannot deny themselves the pleasure of eating this dish at home, so they are actively looking for recipes or restaurants where it is served.
By the way, in the Czech Republic, they also serve a noble cabbage side dish: pickled and stewed, with dumplings (these are Czech dumplings) and meat. The taste of these side dishes is different: Czech crunches and German is soft and tender.
The original recipe of sauerkraut necessarily includes onions, vegetable (or butter) oil, or better – pork fat, pepper. Juniper berries, cumin, apples, and beer are optional.
To prepare sauerkraut you would need:
- Large bowl
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Frying pan
- Flat plate
Steps To Make German Sauerkraut
- Finely chop the cabbage with a knife. The thinner the straw, the more delicate the taste.
- In a frying pan with thick walls, put the fat cut into small cubes, put the onion cut into thin half-rings, fry until lightlyare golden.
- Add cabbage and seasonings, mix.
- Pour in the water and simmer, stirring, until brownish.
- Put a finely chopped apple in the cabbage and simmer until tender.
- Thoroughly wash a large bowl, then pour boiling water over it. Also thoroughly wash your hands and all other surfaces in contact with cabbage. Cleanliness is important because unnecessary bacteria and microorganisms multiply rapidly in such an environment.
- Wash the cabbage, remove the upper flaccid leaves. Finely chop and put in a prepared bowl. Add salt and mix the cabbage with salt for about 5 minutes. Cabbage should be significantly reduced in volume. Add cumin, black pepper, mix and mash a little more with clean hands.
- Cover the surface of the cabbage with a clean flat plate and put a weight on top, for example, a jar filled with water. Cover the top with cling film and leave it in a dark place at room temperature (about 65-68 F) for 5 days.
- After 5 days, the cabbage will be ready to eat, but you can leave the cabbage to ferment for another period of 1 to 5 weeks (or until the fermentation stops and the bubbles disappear).
- While the cabbage is fermenting, it is important to check it daily, releasing accumulated gases, and stirring to remove bubbles.
- The longer the cabbage stands, the more acidic it will become. Therefore, it is important to try it every time. As soon as you like the taste, you need to put it in sterile jars. Store German sauerkraut in the refrigerator for no more than 6 months.
Health Benefits Of Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut contains probiotics that improve intestinal function, as well as vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and strengthen bones. Studies show that sauerkraut and other products with probiotics can positively affect a person’s mood and help in the fight against depression.
It is useful for digestion
Sauerkraut is good for the intestines and improves the general condition of microflora. The bacteria used to ferment cabbage are called probiotics. The same bacteria exist in our intestines, and they play the role of the first line of defense against toxins, inflammation, and harmful microorganisms. In addition, sauerkraut contains a lot of fiber, thanks to which effectively prevents astriction.
A good source of iron
Iron is an important element for our body. It is necessary for blood production and metabolism. Iron deficiency worsens immunity and leads to a decline in strength. We get the main part of this mineral from meat food. It is also found in many plants, but in this form, it is absorbed much worse. A study by European scientists has shown that the bacteria contained in sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables improve the absorption of iron, increasing its bioavailability.
Protects the nervous system and improves mood
There is an old saying in Austria: “Sour makes you joyful” – it means that sauerkraut increases appetite and adds pleasure to any meal. But recent research brings new meanings to this saying. Probiotics contained in fermented foods affect the functioning of the brain and nervous system, improving mood and contributing to the treatment of depressive symptoms.
A recent study by Chinese scientists has shown that the state of the intestinal microflora affects the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and probiotics from fermented foods can reduce the likelihood of its development.
The exact mechanisms of these effects are poorly understood. Scientists talk about the existence of a “signaling system” that connects the gut microbiota with the brain and acts through the immune, endocrine systems, as well as neural and metabolic pathways. But the exact principle of its work is unknown.
Strengthens the immune system
A hundred years ago, several barrels of sauerkraut could always be found on any ship. Sailors ate it in order to avoid scurvy because there is a lot of vitamin C in such cabbage, which is very important for immunity and many organs of our body. It participates in the production of white blood cells, stimulates cell regeneration, lightly, and promotes the formation of collagen, which is necessary for the elasticity of the skin and many other tissues. And probiotics, according to a recent study by German doctors, enhance beneficial properties.
Helps to keep bones strong
The combination of vitamins and minerals contained in sauerkraut makes it an almost ideal product for maintaining bone health. Vitamin K regulates the production of proteins that regulate their mineralization. Manganese, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium make bones stronger.
- You can not be distracted while cooking: otherwise, the cabbage will burn.
- Sometimes sour jam is added to sauerkraut (for example, blackcurrant): this gives the dish a special taste and aroma, but not everyone will like sweet and sour cabbage. Ratio: half a cup of jam per 2 lb of cabbage. Jam is added five minutes before it is ready.
- Some gourmets add currant jam to the side dish.
- Pork fat can be safely replaced with vegetable oil.
- Sauerkraut will be an excellent filling for strudel with cabbage and meat.
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 27
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 0g
- Sodium 560mg24%
- Total Carbohydrate 9g3%
- Dietary Fiber 3g12%
- Sugars 2g
- Protein 2g4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.