What is Sauerkraut?


You may have heard of sauerkraut often enough and are wondering what that food with a unique-sounding name really is.

A cabbage dish that is fermented, sauerkraut is often associated with European countries like Alsace, the Netherlands and Germany, where it is said to have originated.

However, some say that it was the Tartars who introduced this dish from the Orient to Eastern Europe and then finally, to Western Europe and the United States.

The name sauerkraut comes from the German word which means “sour cabbage.”  It is made up of finely sliced white cabbage that has been fermented with lactobacillus bacteria.  The natural sugars of the cabbage are then converted to lactic acid which serves as the preservative of the dish.

Korea and China have their versions of the sauerkraut which they ferment in rice wine and has been eaten as a standard fare during the building of The Great Wall of China more than 2000 years ago.

Sauerkraut is characterized by its tangy taste and is often used as a garnish, in salads and other foods.

Because this zesty food does not need refrigeration, the Dutch — they were sea-faring traders — often have it on their ships.   In the Netherlands, sauerkraut is a staple winter food while the Jews have adopted it in their cuisine and is usually prepared with duck or goose meat.