What is the best cabbage for sauerkraut

Typically German - sauerkraut

White cabbage, salt and pressure

Basically, you only need two ingredients to make sauerkraut: white cabbage and salt. Lactic acid bacteria do the rest. But of course there are a few things to consider.

Any head of white cabbage can be made into sauerkraut, but there are varieties that are more suitable than others. Filderkraut from the Stuttgart area is particularly popular, a pointed white cabbage that makes particularly fine sauerkraut.

After harvesting, the white cabbage is freed from the outer leaves and the thick stalk is cut out. After that, the cabbage needs to be sliced. This used to be done by hand with the help of special cabbage slicers, today machines make the process easier.

Then the cabbage strips are mixed with table salt and put into fermentation tanks. It is now important that the herb is properly put under pressure. The cell walls of the cabbage are destroyed by pressure and salt, water and air escape and the fermentation process can begin.

A job for the lactic acid bacteria

Now the bacteria begin their work: they multiply, use up the remaining oxygen and produce lactic acid. The cabbage acquires its typical sour taste within a few days, and the development of undesirable germs is inhibited at the same time.

After ten to twelve days, the resulting sauerkraut has a lactic acid content of around one percent. Depending on the type of production, the sauerkraut can already be used now. Some things go through a fermentation process lasting several months. In industrial production, the sauerkraut is usually heated to make it more durable.

History of sauerkraut

Even if sauerkraut is considered a typical German vegetable: it is definitely invented by someone else. Presumably, the method of pickling and fermenting herbs developed independently of one another in several regions of the world. What is certain is that the Chinese used lactic acid fermentation for their cabbage varieties thousands of years ago.

Like the Romans and Greeks of antiquity, they knew that the leavened herb not only has a good shelf life, but is also extremely healthy. Even the doctor Hippocrates knew sauerkraut, and the Roman Emperor Tiberius used it for his soldiers during the campaigns.

How sauerkraut spread in Europe has not yet been clarified. It is possible that the Romans brought it with them to the areas they conquered. Some also suspect that Mongolian tribes brought the Chinese variant of the sour herb to Europe in the 13th century.

Vitamin bomb sauerkraut

From the Middle Ages it was common in the northern regions of Europe to grow cabbage in your own garden. Everyone produced their own sauerkraut - put in barrels and kept all winter long.

At a time when vegetables could only be preserved by pickling, souring or in dried form, sauerkraut played an important role as a vitamin supplier for the cold season.

The seafarers like James Cook knew this, too, who took sauerkraut by the barrel on his long voyages in order to prevent the crew from suffering from scurvy - a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C.

The English seafarers in particular also rely on lemon juice, which is also an important supplier of vitamins. However, the lemon could not displace the sauerkraut, since cabbage vegetables were simply cheaper.

In the 19th century, cabbage cultivation and sauerkraut production began on a large scale in Germany. The large growing areas around Dithmarschen, on the Fildern near Stuttgart, near Merkendorf in Bavaria, in the southern Palatinate and in North Rhine-Westphalia emerged.

The times of starvation in and after the two world wars made cabbage - and thus sauerkraut - one of the most important vegetables on German menus. But after that, interest ebbed.

Fridges, canned food, cabbage barrels

With modern food production, imports, and better methods of preservation, the cabbage slowly lost its importance. Vegetables of all kinds gradually became available year-round, could be chilled or bought in tins.

From then on, cabbage was seen more as poor people's food. Many small businesses that grew cabbage gave up. Large farms took over the cabbage and sauerkraut production.

But increased health awareness and the use of regional products make sauerkraut interesting again today. What is scientifically proven is also used by consumers.

Sauerkraut is very low in calories, fat-free, contains a lot of fiber, minerals, lactic acid and vitamins A, B, C, E and K - in short: it is extremely healthy and mostly comes from domestic production. Nowadays, sauerkraut juices are also available in supermarkets, which are mainly used in naturopathy for intestinal problems.

Because sauerkraut helps to regenerate the intestinal flora. Lactic acid is able to kill germs. And even if a hearty sauerkraut menu is so appealing: the sauerkraut develops its best effect when it is eaten raw.