When November rolls around the holiday hullabaloo is already well underway. While the majority of folks are planning Thanksgiving feasts, decorating, scheduling holiday parties, making gift-giving lists, and have sugar plum fairies on their minds, my attention is focused on tubs of simmering, bubbling, brining sauerkraut. Bundling up, I make my way over to my friend’s Charles Village row house that is the repository for the annual batch of kraut. I pull off the weights, cloths and coverings that protect and encourage the brining process that gently transforms the lowly cabbage into fresh tangy kraut.
Although homemade sauerkraut brewing may seem a thing of the past, the practice is still going strong around much of the world. In most of the cold northern climates the tradition of curing cabbage goes back to ancient times. There are few regular sources of nourishment to be had during the cold months and cabbage fashioned into sauerkraut provides a reliable source of Vitamins A and C and Potassium as well. Cabbage and kraut have even higher levels of lactobacilli, a probiotic, than yogurt and help in the digestive process. People living in remote eastern European villages may not know the exact nutritional components of kraut, but history has shown that by eating it during the winter they stay healthy. Their home brewed kraut is still used for medicinal purposes, virility, and even hangover relief. Wow – that’s some powerful stuff!