Tim’s homemade pork sausage with prunes and Nancy’s bacon-studded potato salad made tasty companions to my apple-sweetened sauerkraut. The cabbage’s crisp tartness was an excellent foil for all that meaty goodness.
By the end of the afternoon, the crock was mostly empty. There’s a cup or two left, not quite enough for a choucroute garnie but plenty for a most satisfying Reuben sandwich. I love eating the pickled apple slices, too, and so will be sure to include them in future batches.
Homemade sauerkraut has a crisp texture and fresh flavor that canned, pasteurized versions can never retain. The raw stuff is a rich source of Vitamin C and calcium as well as hard-working, gastro-friendly lactobacilli. Some believe that the idea of pickling cabbage travelled west from China courtesy of Genghis Khan and his marauding armies. Recognizing a good thing when it appeared, Eastern Europeans and ocean-bound sailors stocked up on barrels of sauerkraut to keep themselves healthy through long months of food shortages.
Sauerkraut is now touted as a super food. With minor celebrities claiming its success in fighting off everything from constipation to cancer, its probiotic power has made sauerkraut the darling of health foodies around the world.
If you’re not up to making your own, be sure to check the refrigerated section of your supermarket for chilled sauerkraut that still has live cultures, much like good-quality yogurt or NY-style half-sour pickles or the best kimchi. Or if you can’t find raw sauerkraut locally, you can order online from Pickled Planet.