a typical German dish, is finely sliced white
cabbage fermented by various lactic acid bacteria
including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.
It has good keeping qualities and a distinctive sour
flavor that both result from lactic acid, which forms when
the bacteria ferment sugars in the fresh cabbage.
comes from the German Sauerkraut, which literally
translates to sour cabbage. Sauerkraut is a
prominent feature of cuisines from most of the cold
regions of Europe, and it is eaten in many parts in the
U.S.A. and Canada as well. A similar food is also seen in
Manchuria, where it is called "suan cai" in
the container is a stoneware crock and the seal is created
with a piece of wet linen cloth, a board, and a heavy
stone. This arrangement is not fully airtight and will
lead to spoiled sauerkraut unless the surface of the brine
is skimmed daily to remove molds and other aerobic
contaminants that grow on the surface where there is
contact with air.
An alternative that avoids this problem
is a type of ceramic jar, the Harsch crock made especially
for home sauerkraut production, that has a trough around
its lid. When this trough is filled with water the result
is an airtight seal. Glass canning jars with clamped thread less
lids can also be used. Whatever kind of container is used,
it must allow the escape of fermentation gasses.
Commercial-scale sauerkraut production typically employs
large airtight plastic barrels.
Sauerkraut is made
by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is
analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) cucumber
pickles are made. Fully cured sauerkraut keeps for several
months in an airtight container stored at or below 15°C.
Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization are required,
though these treatments can prolong storage life.
culture of lactic acid bacteria is needed because these
bacteria are already present on raw cabbage. Yeasts are
also present, which cause soft sauerkraut of poor flavor
when the fermentation temperature is too high.
include sauerkraut prepared from whole cabbages instead of
shredded strips. Sometimes other vegetables are added,
such as carrots. Spices may be added; caraway
and juniper berries are traditional. Sometimes wine is
added. Red cabbage can be used to make sauerkraut. While
this is rare in the United States, it is frequently found
on the menu in Germany, where it is called "Rotkohl"
or "Blaukraut". When sauerkraut is made from
turnips or rutabagas, the product is called sauerrüben.
at home, the USDA recommends a greater amount of salt than
is traditional, making the sauerkraut unpalatably salty
unless rinsed before eating. Such rinsing removes much of
the nutrient content and flavor. When traditional amounts
of salt are used, temperature control is critical, because
spoilage leading to food poisoning can occur if the
fermentation temperature is too high.
However, once made,
sauerkraut is a very safe food, because its high acidity
prevents spoilage. USDA also recommends pasteurizing
sauerkraut for storage, though this is not necessary if
the raw sauerkraut has been properly made and stored. To
be safe, do not eat any sauerkraut that has a slimy or
excessively soft texture, or a discoloration or
off-flavor, any of which can indicate spoilage.
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