Memories of My Grandparents Making Sauerkraut in Antique Ceramic Crocks
Memories of my parents and grandparents making sauerkraut in my grandparent's basement each year in those large old ceramic crocks is embedded into my mind from my childhood days.
I can almost smell that freshly fermenting sauerkraut now as I am writing this numerous decades after the fact! There is nothing quite like that smell which early on I grew to love. Oh...and that wonderful fresh and crunchy sauerkraut taste when it is still raw...all I can say is that there is nothing quite like it for flavor.
If you have only tasted jarred or canned sauerkraut you have missed out on a unique flavor profile of cabbage when it is in this state of fermentation.
As a hobby my grandfather loved gardening. He not only grew beautiful flowers, trees and tended his yard with loving care but he always had a massive garden. In fact he had several gardens!
We grew up from my grandparents with a path between our houses in the field. Later they sold the big house and purchased one next door to us. It is in that house that I vividly remember the sauerkraut making days!
After harvesting his cabbages in the fall of the year, my parents would help my grandparents clean and shred the cabbages and put them into some large crocks that they utilized each year for making sauerkraut.
As a child I was not privy to the actual ingredients nor the method as they often did this chore after my parents had my brothers and me tucked safely into our beds at night. Oh but I remember the great smells emanating from my grandparent's basement each year as this cabbage slowly turned into sauerkraut.
We often got to sample the sauerkraut out of a crock as it was progressing in the fermentation process to determine when it was just right.
It could be kept that way for quite some time as the basements were cool but at some point the sauerkraut was then canned where it could safely be kept for a much longer period of time.
As I have come to find out the process is not all that difficult to make sauerkraut if one has the freshly harvested cabbages, a few key ingredients and the right equipment.
Sauerkraut...delicious sounding recipe!
My grandparents were both of German descent and often made German food dishes. With German culture as a backdrop and a vegetable garden at the ready to provide nutritious ingredients, there was always something flavorful being made in my grandmother's and also my mother's kitchen.
Pork roasts with brown gravy, homemade applesauce, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes was a favorite meal. Of course there was the fresh garden salad to accompany the meal and some type of homemade dessert.
Desserts were big in the midwest where I grew up. A meal was not considered complete without some type of sweet ending.
German bratwurst on the grill was another good pairing for the sauerkraut.
We did not just eat the unadorned sauerkraut out of the canning jars. My mother always grated some potato or even apple into the sauerkraut after rinsing it from the brine and most often added caraway seeds. The apple gave it a little hint of sweetness to offset the acidity. That is how I still cook sauerkraut to this day.
She also made a wonderful red cabbage recipe but that is off topic except to say that it relates to cabbage. My mother and grandmother were both excellent cooks.
Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
In the "olden days" sailors used to carry sauerkraut aboard their ships to avoid getting scurvy. Fresh fruits containing Vitamin C would have been harder to keep for extended time periods, whereas the sauerkraut maintained a high level of that all important vitamin.
I caught an episode of Doctor Oz on the television set the other day and he was quizzing a couple of ladies as to whether they thought raw cabbage or sauerkraut had more health benefits. Both ladies chose the raw cabbage and while that is excellent for nutrition their answers were wrong.
In addition to fiber, vitamins, and a small amount of iron sauerkraut has ingredients called isothiocyanates and sulphoraphanes that serve to fight against developing cancer.
The raw fermented sauerkraut that I used to love eating has even more of those healthy assets! In fact many of the specific health benefits are negated if pasteurized and canned. So look for fresh unpasteurized sauerkraut in refrigerated sections of grocery stores for the best health benefits.
To top it off sauerkraut helps boost the immune system and is low in calories. It only has about 32 calories a cup. Be sure and rinse it prior to eating as the sodium content is high and can be lessened by this important step.
Are you ready to start eating more sauerkraut armed with this information?
Do you eat sauerkraut?
© 2010 Peggy Woods