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Sauerkraut, a Tasty Vitamin Pride of Russians
December 18, 2020 19:35

Since ancient times, sauerkraut has been considered among the staple food products of the Slavic peoples, especially in winter, because it is then that the body requires more vitamins. Despite rather simple preparation of sauerkraut, in Old Russia, it was still not considered a food of ordinary people. Only feudal princes could grow cabbage on their land plots, which were then proudly called cabbage gardens. Only their families and squads of could eat cabbage, because it was believed to give excellent health and strength.
Russian Traditions regarding Cabbage
Harvesting of cabbage for the winter in Russia was carried out in late autumn, after the first weak frosts, which prompted cabbage heads "curl up" better and become harder.
There were general rules, customs and signs for harvesting cabbage. For example, cabbage harvested in October is more sugary than that harvested in September, and it is better to chop cabbage on the New Moon days as it will then be stronger and tastier.
The process of fermenting cabbage was traditionally launched on Sergius Day, also known as Sergey Kapustnik (Cabbage Day). This holiday falls on October 8, and has long been honored by Russian peasants. On this day, they not only began to chop cabbage, but also prepared for the wedding season.
It was on this holiday that the younger generation – boys and girls of marriageable age, gathered together for making sauerkraut and trying to show their best side at it. The work is laborious – first cleaning the cabbage heads from the stalk and bad leaves, then chopping with a knife or axe and, finally, fermenting itself. Each family has had its own sauerkraut recipe: some people add carrots, some like to have it with cranberries, others with beets or apples. Rowan berries or honey was also added. In general, sauerkraut gives a lot of room for imagination in terms of additives. It can use a variety of spices - from cumin and anise to pepper and coriander, from horseradish to ground pepper. But the final product is always delicious and in demand.
How is Cabbage Fermented? Sauerkraut Recipe
There are a few ways to prepare sauerkraut. But the "standard" recipe still exists: after cleaning and washing, cabbage needs to be chopped, salted and thoroughly kneaded with your hands, so that it lets the juice out. Afterwards, grated carrots are added and mixed in. Then the cabbage and carrot mix is placed and pressed tightly in a barrel or other large container. The bottom of the container should be preliminary covered with whole cabbage leaves. Cover the top with cabbage leaves in addition, put a clean gauze over and press down with a yoke for the fermenting period.
Number of ingredients per 1 kg of chopped cabbage:
- rock salt - 17.2 g;
- carrots peeled and chopped-35 gr;
The duration of fermentation depends on the temperature. Thus, under room temperature, it will take about a week for cabbage to get fermented and a little longer if the air is cool. In order to eliminate the unpleasant smell and possible bitterness, during fermentation, pierce the cabbage mix several times with a long sharp object. After souring, the ready cabbage mass is stored in a cold place, without removing the press.
A traditional container for making sauerkraut has long been a wooden tub. The wood absorbs the aroma and makes the taste of the product more saturated and isauerkraIn such a way sauerkraut can be stored in a cold place all winter long.
Varieties of Sauerkraut
Cabbage was fermented either with whole heads, or cut, or chopped. There were white and grey typesof pickled cabbage. The first type was prepared from white cabbage, according to recipes that have practically not changed till date. The gray type of sauerkraut was obtained from the same raw material, but every layer of cabbage was sprinkled with rye flour along with salt. In this case, if the juice under the press was not enough, rye kvass was added to the container to improve fermentation. Perhaps this method was the oldest, the original, which gave the Russian name of «kvashenaya» cabbage, i.e. "seasoned with kvass".
In the process of fermentation, sauerkraut acquires organic acids, and gains even more vitamins.
Quite a lot can be said about the beneficial properties of sauerkraut. In addition to vitamins and trace elements, it is also known that it has a tonic, bactericidal, anti-inflammatory and even analgesic effect and contributes to the regulation of acid-base balance, digestion, normalization of cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is recommended to use sauerkraut for people who have problems with metabolism and severe chronic diseases.
But not all the properties of sauerkraut are healthful. Consult your doctor if you suffer any serious ailments.
Cooking Recipes with Sauerkraut
There are a lot of different dishes made from or with sauerkraut. A very traditional Russian soup is shchia sourish soup based on sausauerkraut. This simple but delicious, hearty soup has a variety of options: it is daily cabbage soup with pork, cabbage soup with sauerkraut with duck, cabbage soup with mushrooms, cabbage soup with beans, etc. Sauerkraut salads are very tasty: there are recipes with the addition of mushrooms, beets, pumpkin and other ingredients. Sauerkraut also makes a perfect stuffing for traditional Russian pies. You will surely like a hearty, fragrant kulebyaka.
Enjoy delicious and healthy sauerkraut!

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Cuisine Recipes Traditional Dishes Sauerkraut Healthy Russian Recipes 

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