From meatballs to cake, sauerkraut is a surprisingly tasty ingredient that your kitchen shouldn’t be without. And this fermented product was thought to have healing properties.
The healthy qualities of sauerkraut were recognized as early as 200 B.C. According to historical records, sauerkraut was doled out to the laborers working on the Great Wall of China. Sauerkraut was also well thought of during the Civil War.
Its popularity can be attributed not only to its taste, but more importantly, to the fact that it prevented attacks of scurvy during the North’s long winter. In June 1863, when Southern troops captured the town of Chambersburgs, PA., one of the things demanded was 25 barrels of sauerkraut. It seems that many of the men were suffering from scurvy, and the South’s commander had heard that sauerkraut was an effective cure and a preventative for the “troublesome disease.”
To make sauerkraut, place a 2-3 inch layer of thinly shredded cabbage in a large stone or earthenware crock. Sprinkle lightly with non-iodized salt (use 3 ½ tbsp. of salt per 5 pounds of cabbage).
Pound vigorously with a potato masher or wooden “stomper.” Repeat this process until the crock is almost full. Cover with a clean cloth and place a round board on top. Place something on top of the board to weigh it down. Set in a warm place to ferment. After about 6 days, remove the scum that has formed on top. Wash the cloth in cold water, replace it and move the crock to a cool place. In about two weeks, the sauerkraut will be ready. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.