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National dish of Germany

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  • Independence: 18. 1.  1871
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Official language: German
  • Population: 81 799 600
  • Area: 357 021 km2
  • International code: DE
  • Currency: Euro (€)
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Sauerkraut

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds green cabbages, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons coarse, kosher, or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Sauerkraut national food (dish) of Germany

Instructions:

Toss the cabbage, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or until the cabbage has released a lot of water. If there is not enough brine, the sauerkraut will go bad before it ferments. Place the cabbage in a large glass or glazed earthenware jar or canister, first squeezing the liquid from each handful back into the bowl. After you've added all the sauerkraut, push it down with your fist to make it more compact. Then pour in enough brine to cover the cabbage by at least 1 inch. Insert a small plate, large enough to cover all the cabbage, inside the jar to keep the cabbage submerged. Drape the canister with a cloth and let sit at room temperature for 2-4 weeks. Check the plate after a couple of days. If it's floating on the brine, place another plate on top of the first to create more weight. It's ready when it tastes like sauerkraut. Makes 5 cups.

Info:

Sauerkraut is the most well known German food. Sauerkraut is finely sliced green cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria (Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus). The fermentation process (also known as pickling) gives the cabbage a distinct sour flavor, which is where it gets the name Sauerkraut (sour cabbage). Finished Sauerkraut can be purchased in many German food stores as well as in many markets. Sauerkraut can be eaten raw, which has many vitamins and minerals. However, if you are not used to the high amount of lacto-bacilli found in raw Sauerkraut, it can easily upset your stomach. For cooking suggestions, please see our Cooking Sauerkraut and Sauerkraut Recipes sections below.

Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation. The bacteria and yeasts needed for the fermentation process are found on the cabbage leaves. No additional bacteria is added. The process of making Sauerkraut begins by washing and finely slicing the white cabbage. The sliced cabbage is put into a large pot, a specific amount of salt is mixed in, and it is mashed with a cabbage masher. This allows the cabbage juices to be extracted from the cabbage. It produces enough to cover the cabbage in liquid. It is important for the cabbage to be completely covered in liquid to keep air out - any cabbage exposed to air would cause spoilage during the fermenation process. For Weinsauerkraut (Wine Sauerkraut), white wine is also added at this point. The cabbage is put into a large, covered, airtight container and allowed to ferment for 4 to 6 weeks. The bacteria and yeast begin the fermenation process. Over time, the lactic acid bacteria become active, converting the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. The Sauerkraut is ready when the desired "sourness" is obtained. Sauerkraut can keep for several months if it is stored in an airtight container and stored at or below 36°F (15°C). Refrigeration not required, but it greatly increases the shelf life of the Sauerkraut. Many commerical producers also use pasteurization to further increase its shelf life.

Finished Sauerkraut can be purchased in many German food stores as well as in many markets. Sauerkraut can be eaten raw, which has many vitamins and minerals (see Nutritional Information section). However, if you are not used to the high amount of lacto-bacilli found in raw Sauerkraut, it can easily upset your stomach. Cooking Sauerkraut is very simple. Drain the Sauerkraut and rinse it if it is too salty. Add it to a large cooking pot. For every pound of Sauerkraut, add 3/4 cup of Riesling or other dry white wine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to very low and let the Sauerkraut simmer for one hour. If the Sauerkraut starts to become dry during cooking, add some water. Depending on your taste, onions, bacon, juniper berries, caraway, and/or cream can be added to and cooked with the Sauerkraut. In many parts of Germany, pork ribs or pork cutlets are cooked in the Sauerkraut to give it a smokey flavor. The pork absorbs the liquid and becomes very soft and juicy.

 
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