There is nothing better than homemade sauerkraut. And it is incredibly easy to make. However…
I think you should familiarize yourself with the taste of it before you start your own ‘production’, simply because you should know what to expect. If you know someone making Sauerkraut at home, ask for a sample.
If not, go to a health store and check what they have in their fridge. You will find high-quality Sauerkraut there. Unfortunately, it goes with a high price as well.
So, if you want a cheaper option, I recommend to go to the closest Eastern European shop and buy a jar of kapusta kwaszona or kapusta kiszona. I said JAR. Never, ever buy kapusta in a plastic bag. It contains really nasty preservatives and usually tastes awful. Also, under no circumstances ever dare to buy CANNED fermented foods. They just don’t taste like proper stuff.
All the Polish brands of sauerkraut in jars available in Ireland are quite good, so don’t be shy and buy the cheapest. I never tried Lithuanian ones, but their food is generally great, so probably there is nothing wrong with their sauerkraut.
Note, that Sauerkraut you buy in jars in Eastern European shops is PASTEURISED. It means that it doesn’t have live bacteria, but still contains most vitamins and minerals. But the taste is very similar to raw sauerkraut and you only want to sample anyway, don’t you?
Sometimes it is possible to buy Sauerkraut by weight and that will be unpasteurized. You are expected to put the product into a plastic bag by yourself and this can be a bit of a hassle; so don’t hesitate to ask a shop assistant for help. If you bring a jar with you, don’t forget to ask for the empty jar to be weighted first.
Not so long ago you could buy pasteurised Polish kapusta in every Eurospar, Centra and Tesco. Now, for some mysterious reasons you cannot. New Immigration Politics?
Anyway, once you venture a trip to a proper shop and recover from the shock of viewing so much amazing food (kielbasa!) in one place and purchase a JAR of kapusta kiszona or kwaszona, you are on the right path. Now, you open the jar and give yourself some time to adjust to the smell. I will be honest with you: it can be repulsive. But only at the beginning. And the taste makes up for this, I promise.
The simplest, but also healthiest thing you can make out of sauerkraut is surówka, which probably translates to raw salad. Check the next post for the recipe.