Thursday, 11 May 2017 18:43

All About Kraut and Kimchi

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Upcoming class to learn how to make Kraut-Kimchi, with John Grouber Upcoming class to learn how to make Kraut-Kimchi, with John Grouber Submitted photo

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.

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).

You can now sign up for the Kraut-Kimchi class slated for June 1st, from 6pm to 8pm by following this link:

John Grouber is a local craft beer blogger and fermentation enthusiast. Find him exclusively on and...

John will be a regular contributor on, check back for his next installment.

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