The sauerkraut: German princess and scurvy

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Sauerkraut - ©Brücke-Osteuropa / CC0 Sauerkraut - ©Brücke-Osteuropa / CC0

What’s this?

Well, this choucroute ("sauerkraut") is one of the most famous specialities, in Alsace! Yummy, don’t you have your mouth watering? Just smell the fermented white cabbages cooked in white wine, full of little juniper berries?

Do you see these mellow potatoes, those nice charcuteries (Strasbourg and Montbéliard's sausages, smoked pork bacon)? Well, this is choucroute... Alsace on your papillas!

The little history

A princess ogress fond of choucroute!

The name choucroute comes from German sauer kraut, which means "salted cabbages" or "sour herb". And in Germany as in neighbouring countries, people ate choucroute! Since a long time...

Here: do you know the Palatine princess? It was regent Philip of Orléans’ wife, born in Austria. This one was a bon viveur, so was his wife: we imagine her with good cheeks, a red complexion, chubby. In Versailles, where she lived, people liked fine and delicate food. But not her!

The princess would sell her soul to stuff herself with a pint of beer or a sauer kraut and fat sausages... And her French cook didn’t know the recipe of the sauer kraut, so she ordered it from abroad... Hey, there was a nice stinky smell of cabbages in Versailles castle, at that time!

A technique

To make the sauer kraut at that time, the recipe was pretty simple: they put the white cabbages in a cask with wine, salt and juniper: these cabbages leaves had to be packed very tightly! The vegetable fermented for several months, creating a water that they had to remove, added instead a fresh brine (that one had to be change every 4 days).

Sauer kraut VS scurvy!

The sauer kraut has a little secret... yes, it's full of vitamin C! Writer Alexandre Dumas said in his book Grand dictionnaire de cuisine that captain Cook gave sauer kraut to his sailors when they went for several months at sea. Well, the sauer kraut was the best medicine against the scurvy!

And also!