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Raw Sauerkraut?


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#1 Kim Shook

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 09:04 PM

I am confused about this. Several times at the store where I work, people have asked if we carry raw sauerkraut. I guess I don't really understand sauerkraut, because I thought that sauerkraut was basically pickled cabbage and that heat was applied to can it. At the store we have sauerkraut in jars and I have seen it in cans and even plastic bags. Is this cooked? I tried looking on Wikipedia and just got lost. Wikipedia made it sound as if the sauerkraut I am talking about is eaten out of the container, it is raw, but if you heat it, it is cooked :wacko: . This can't be what people mean when they ask me, because they say that the Eastern European delis here have 'raw sauerkraut'.

Please unconfuse me.

Kim

#2 bdevidal

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 10:43 PM

I am confused about this.  Several times at the store where I work, people have asked if we carry raw sauerkraut.  I guess I don't really understand sauerkraut, because I thought that sauerkraut was basically pickled cabbage and that heat was applied to can it.  At the store we have sauerkraut in jars and I have seen it in cans and even plastic bags.  Is this cooked?  I tried looking on Wikipedia and just got lost.  Wikipedia made it sound as if the sauerkraut I am talking about is eaten out of the container, it is raw, but if you heat it, it is cooked  :wacko: .  This can't be what people mean when they ask me, because they say that the Eastern European delis here have 'raw sauerkraut'. 

Please unconfuse me.

Kim

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I'm pretty sure they mean sauerkraut thats made in-house or available bulk from the barrel. For example, I'm making home made sauerkraut right now, which is pretty much just shredded raw cabbage, salt, a bucket, and a month or so at cool temps. The salt and temp encourage lactic acid bacteria, with produce the acid that make it "sauer". It's perfectly edible right from the barrel; in fact, many people prefer it this way, since it's cool, crunchy, sour, and comes with loads of good-for-you micro-organisms. If I was to store this by either putting it away in a cold fridge to stop the lactic acid fermentation or by freezing it, I believe it would be considered "raw" kraut. Now, if I heat processed it, as in canning, it would be cooked. I'm not entirely sure what state the bagged kraut is in; most appears to need cold storage, but it appears the same color as the canned/jarred kraut, which may just be due to the cabbage that is used. Now, I assume that raw kraut will produce a superior final dish, even in cooked dishes such as choucroute garnie, but I haven't had a chance yet to try, given that the people at my local store look confused when I ask about raw sauerkraut (jk :biggrin: ).

-B

#3 rlibkind

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 10:47 PM

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. After fermentation, it can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Canned kraut is, for all intents and purposes, cooked. Jarred kraut can be cooked or uncooked. Kraut in plastic bags is generally uncooked. The best kraut is barrel kraut which hasn't been cooked or packaged.

An eastern European deli probably would be selling fermented but uncooked kraut, which some people might refer to as raw kraut. This is what you'd want to start with if, for example, you were making choucroute. At a German deli you can frequently purchase wine kraut, which has been cooked with wine (usually a nice riesling) and some added flavors, perhaps juniper berries.
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#4 SeaGal

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 10:52 PM

My parents used to make sauerkraut and indeed it was just brined, cured cabbage, lovely to eat "raw", but often cooked with weiners or pork chops. Some of the jarred, cold packed varieties sold in stores may be raw, such as Bubbies and Claussen. Claussen's website says all their pickles are packed raw, which is why they're stored in the cold case. Both of these taste more like fresh sauerkraut to me. The stuff in cans is definitely not raw, as canned goods are heated in the canning process.
Jan
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#5 LindsayAnn

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:24 PM

So how can I (in chicago) find the raw kraut.....its healthier, no?

I mean with the lactic acid and natural bacterium....living organizms (the good ones) I would guess its beneficial, like yogurts with live active cultures are, to your tummy/intestines/well-being/immune systems....right???

Anyone know where I can find this in Chicago area? The real...uncooked stuff?
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hmmm - as it appears if you are eating good food with the ones you love you will be living life to its fullest, surely laughing and smiling throughout!!!

#6 bdevidal

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:42 PM

So how can I (in chicago) find the raw kraut.....its healthier, no?

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Knowing Chicago, I'm sure there are places (delis, meat markets, etc) that sell
barrel kraut, but if for some reason you are unable to find it, it really is easy to
make. There are a couple of threads on here about making homemade kraut,
so I don't really have anything to add on that front, but I have come up with my
own device that makes the process more enjoyable and less, er, fragrant. I went
and bought a large lexan food storage container (plus lid) from a restaurant supply
place; aprox 4 gallons and only a couple of bucks. I also bought some air supply
tubing (like the kind used for a fish tank) from another store, maybe two bucks.
Using a piece of wire heated over the stove, I made a hole in the lid, just a bit
smaller than the fish tank hose. When the hose is pushed into the hole, it makes a
good seal. I then loaded up the bucket with shredded cabbage, pickling salt, and
a big bag o' water/brine (I used the roasting bags used for turkeys), snapped on the
lid, placed the bucket in a dark, cool place, and fed the other end of the tubing out
a slightly opened window, plugging the gap with a towel to prevent drafts. I also
rubberbanded a couple layers of cheesecloth/paper towel over the end of the tube
to make sure nothing came back up the tube. I'm approaching six weeks in a closed
room with no other air movement, and you absolutely cannot smell anything from
the kraut without taking the lid off. In addition, since the pickling kraut slowly but
consistently produces CO2 as a byproduct, there is a slight constant pressure coming
out the tube, and I have yet to develop any mold or fuzz in the container. If you
wanted to get really hard core, you could use a bubbling fermentation lock, either
home made or the kind used in home brewing, but so far I haven't found that to be
necessary.

-B

#7 srhcb

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:46 PM

Around here the stores get what are reffered to as "sour heads" of cabbage for people who make their own kraut.

From the recipe below you can see why most people don't want to go to the trouble to do this themselves, even if you cut the recipe by 90%:

SOUR CABBAGE HEADS

24 Cabbage heads (solid heads)
3 Red peppers; quartered
1 Fresh horseradish -- peeled and chopped
1/2 Box bay leaves
1 Garlic head
1/4 Box dry whole red peppers
52 oz Salt (not iodized)

Remove large loose outer leaves from cabbage heads.

Core cabbage and fill with salt. Place core side up in large crock.

Layer cabbage alternatly with other ingredients

Cover with large outer leaves which have been removed from cabbage and fill crock with water.

Place a heavy weight on top of cabbage and cover with clean cloth.

Keep water clean by skimming off the foam which will begin to form after about a week.

Continue for six weeks, topping off water as needed.

To locate sour heads try calling markets in Eastern European ethnic neighborhoods.

SB (whose Mother's family made their own, but she was never interested in making it herself)

Edited by srhcb, 26 March 2007 - 03:53 PM.


#8 Philip-Thai

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:51 PM

To start Sauerkraut

For each 2 large heads of cabbage. (I prefer to use a mixture of Savoy and red cabbage.)

You need:
1½ Tablespoons (about 25ml) of vinegar. I like to use live vinegar from a vinegar mother
4 teaspoons raw sugar
1 tablespoon of best quality sea salt

Wash and shred the cabbage and pack tightly in jars or a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Divide the other ingredients between the containers.
Cover the cabbage with boiled water and cover tightly.
Place in a cool place to mature, it takes about three weeks or so, and will stay fresh and crisp for years, as long as it is kept below about 15 Celcius..

The liquid left in the container becomes a “Sauerkraut Mother”. It can, and should be used to seed future batches of Kraut, in place of the boiled water above. The flavour of each should improve over the last as the bacillus mature and “good” bacteria displace the less good ones. The very best will give you cabbage that will be extraordinarily crisp and tasty, and remain so for as long as you need.
Apart from that, a tablespoon or so of mature sauerkraut mother liquid taken at least once per week is a very good way to keep the flora in the gut working properly. You should particularly always dose yourself if you ever have to take a course of antibiotics.

#9 bdevidal

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 04:39 PM

From the recipe below you can see why most people don't want to go to the trouble to do this themselves, even if you cut the recipe by 90%:

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It really doesn't have to be that complicated.
To make sauerkraut, the only things you really need are:

Ingredients:
Cabbage
Salt
Something to stick it in
Time

Instructions:
Get cabbage. Shred cabbage. Salt cabbage. Mash salted cabbage
in container. Shred more cabbage, repeat salt and mash. Weight
down cabbage. Put in cool place, let sit (skim and check liquid level
if not using plastic bag.

The raw cabbage provides the liquid, the lactic acid bacteria, and
all the necessary food for the bacteria to start the pickling process
(may need a bit of additional liquid, depending on shred size, salting
and mashing variables). Anything else (other ingredients, processing,
etc) is purely optional.

-B

#10 rumball

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 05:08 PM

yes, that's all you need. it should stand in a cool place (like balcony) for sev.weeks (about may be 50F-55F?). make a well in the center for gasses to come up, put a weight on top (it has to be fairly well packed), cover with cloth, but it has to vent , do not cover with plastic tight lid.
kimchi is an example of raw sauerkraut. in asian markets you can get tupperware with a vent with a little lid: you put it in the fridge to ferment, keeping vent open. once it's done, you close the vent.
i made a pretty good approximation of russian sauerkraut (it's always fresh, nobody eats canned): the trick is to put enough salt, but not too much (taste it!) , you can add grated carrot too, no sugar. in the north of russia they put fresh cranberries in it too: european ones are quite diff from american, more sour and very small.
i ferment mine in the fridge and let it stand for sev weeks. you can actually eat it in a few days - then that's really REALLY fresh sauerkraut. in austria you can get it in traditional restaurants with bauern platter: with speck cuts, pickles and bread. it's a very common condiment. it can be cooked, of course too. it's a very different product from the sauerkraut that you get in the plastic package in the fridge section. though, of course they make that one in germany too.

#11 ludja

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 05:43 PM

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. After fermentation, it can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Canned kraut is, for all intents and purposes, cooked. Jarred kraut can be cooked or uncooked. Kraut in plastic bags is generally uncooked. The best kraut is barrel kraut which hasn't been cooked or packaged.

An eastern European deli probably would be selling fermented but uncooked kraut, which some people might refer to as raw kraut. This is what you'd want to start with if, for example, you were making choucroute. At a German deli you can frequently purchase wine kraut, which has been cooked with wine (usually a nice riesling) and some added flavors, perhaps juniper berries.

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Thanks for the good explanation.

Usually when we want to use uncooked sauerkraut we purchase it in the glass jars. This avoids some of the flavor apparent in canned versions, especially if you're preparing a dish in which you don't cook the sauerkraut.

A simple dish using uncooked sauerkraut is to make a salad with kidney beans (canned and rinsed are fine). Just mix the drained uncooked sauerkraut and drained kidney beans. Adjust seasoning with black pepper and if need salt. I can't remember if my Mom adds in any more vinegar or maybe a little vegetable oil. This is an easy and nice cold salad to serve with grilled sausages in the summer. It's tart and refreshinga and the beans add a nice creamy textural component. My mom has made this for years but I'm not sure if it is an Austrian or German dish or not.

Edited by ludja, 26 March 2007 - 05:45 PM.

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#12 bdevidal

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 06:19 PM

Usually when we want to use uncooked sauerkraut we purchase it in the glass jars.

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AFAIK, this only applies to jarred kraut from the refrigerated section. I'm fairly
certain that any kraut that is shelf stable at room temp, both in cans and glass
jars, would have to be heat processed, i.e. cooked.

-B

#13 Kim Shook

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 06:23 PM

Thank you all for your help! Y'all are much more informative than wikipedia :wink: !

Kim