Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut
Naturally fermented sauerkraut originated approximately 2,000 years ago in China, where it is known as suan cai, with a literal translation of “sour vegetable”. Suan cai is a particular type of pao cai, or “pickled vegetable”, made by natural fermentation which produces the characteristic sour taste. Traditionally, suan cai from Northern China uses Napa cabbage as the vegetable of choice while Chinese mustard greens are used in the South.
The earliest known history of suan cai is about the same time the Great Wall of China was being built. The laborers who built the Wall got their nourishment from rice and various types of fermented and pickled vegetables including suan cai.
It wasn't until 1,000 years later that Genghis Khan plundered China and brought back this recipe for naturally fermented cabbage, which his hordes then transported to Europe. The Germans, who gave it the name "sauerkraut", learned to make this dish from their native European cabbage, giving us sauerkraut as we know it today.
It did not take long before sauerkraut became a staple for seafaring men. It kept well without refrigeration and the vitamin content found in sauerkraut helped keep the ship's crews scurvy free. (The same was done with cucumbers). The famous ship captain, James Cook, once ordered 25,000 pounds of sauerkraut to outfit two ships.
In World War I and II, the slang word “kraut” was used to refer to sailors and ultimately all German soldiers because of a long history of German ships being outfitted with sauerkraut as part of daily food rations to prevent the onset of scurvy. Originating in the 1850s, the slang word “limey” (thought to have been shortened from “lime juicer”) was originally used as a derogatory word for sailors in the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom because of their similar practice of adding lemon or lime juice to the sailors watered down rum, or “grog”, in order to stave off scurvy.
Today you can experience the great history of sauerkraut, which was brought to the United States by German immigrants (who were once called Pennsylvania Dutch), by opening a jar of Bubbies traditional naturally fermented Sauerkraut.
Bubbies Sauerkraut is made from the crisp, center leaves of the finest quality winter cabbages, which are shredded, salted and naturally fermented for several weeks.
According to Per Pickle Packers International, Americans consume 387 million pounds of sauerkraut annually, or about 1.25 pounds per person.
According to the USDA, approximately 262 million pounds of cabbage for sauerkraut were harvested in 2011 in the United States.Recipes with Bubbies Sauerkraut