For those of you unfamiliar with the fermented cabbage goodie, let me explain. Sauerkraut is finely shredded white cabbage, jammed into a jar with salt, and left to ferment. It releases its fluid, softens, changes flavour, and becomes a very nutritious and versatile pickle. With nothing but salt!
Health nuts may tell you about all the enzymes and friendly bacteria in raw sauerkraut, and why that’s really good for you, blah blah blah. I’ll spare you the health lecture, and in its place show you a picture of one of my favourite sandwiches of all time, which uses sauerkraut to amazing effect: the Reuben.
This is my favourite American food. If it weren’t for the Reuben, I’d probably be a vegetarian; but a world without Reubens is a world devoid of meaning, as far as I’m concerned.
In the US, there’s a slang/derogatory term for British people: limeys. The British on trans-Atlantic passages in the 18th century sucked on limes to avoid scurvy, a common disease afflicting seafarers with a lack of sources of vitamin C. But before the Royal Navy administered limes, sauerkraut was the source of vitamin C most commonly brought on board ships crossing to the New World. This practice continued on German ships throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, which is why to this day some Americans (much to my embarrassment) call British people “limeys” and Germans “krauts”.
Put that in your air-tight jar and pickle it.
This afternoon I’ve taken the plunge and attempted to make sauerkraut. I used some leftover cabbage from when Anna and I made dumplings last week, and put the whole shebang in a jar that previously housed Sainsbury’s brand sauerkraut. I got the recipe from a Jewish cookbook. It sounded easy. Let’s hope I end up with sauerkraut, not just a stench in the house.
If all goes well, and our little flat doesn’t smell like a mouldering granny in four weeks’ time, I’ll have a go at making gherkins.