Sauerkraut—love it or hate it, you can’t deny the importance of this traditional German staple. Here in Hermann, we LOVE sauerkraut and all pickled goodness! With Wurstfest coming up in March, it is time to get acquainted with the taste, benefits, and process behind this well-known probiotic food.

The distinctive, slightly sour, sweet and salty sauerkraut truly does provide a complex stimulus to your taste buds. If you have never tried sauerkraut, you are bound to be pleasantly surprised by the well-rounded flavor of this Old-World specialty. Maybe you are a pro to the game of tasting kraut, and perhaps you even have a propensity toward favorite flavors? No matter your kraut experience, mark your calendar for Hermann’s annual Wurstfest, and enjoy this unique taste amongst friends!

Hermann Wurstfest, Where Sauerkraut Shines!

The annual Hermann Wurstfest celebration is a fun and festive German heritage event hosted each Spring. With hoards of sausage selection, sampling and sales, you’ll be seeking that refreshing burst of sauerkraut that compliments it so well. 

Crisp and cold with crackers or warmed to accompany a hot dish, sauerkraut is a versatile fermented tie that binds. This tasty food provided much-needed vitamin C and fiber to immigrating German settlers, but the health benefits of time-honored fermented cabbage are well-known throughout many countries. Fermented foods reserve their place worldwide among revered taste profiles and they will always be included and respected on German menus.

Immersing yourself in German culture is a huge part of the merriment in Wurstfest. If you really want to know a place, feel the food. Comradery and age-old bonding take place when you stand side-by-side with the experts. Whether you participate in meat curing or shredding cabbage for kraut, the connection between community and food is undeniable. 

There are several kraut making opportunities over the Wurstfest weekend. Friday is kraut AND sausage making night at the Wurst Haus, you must register ahead and online for this class and dinner. On Saturday at 1:00 PM and Sunday at 11:00 AM, open kraut classes are being held at the Bourbon Hall of Black Shire Pavilion on the corner of 1st and Gutenburg. You can pre-register through the Welcome Center and payment is accepted at the door.

Health Benefits, You Say?

Sauerkraut is touted to be one of the best regular supplements for supporting a healthy immune system. A few reasons that you should consider adding kraut to your diet:

  • Probiotic-rich, full of naturally occurring beneficial yeasts and bacteria.
  • Metabolizes estrogen and other essential functioning hormones, so our bodies work efficiently.
  • Antifungal properties which protect us from parasites and yeast overgrowth.
  • Low glycemic index, making it safe for those needing to watch sugar intake.
  • Balances our gut biome—we are dependent on healthy bacteria to keep us digesting appropriately and staying well.

That’s a whole lot of goodness! It’s plain to see why sauerkraut has been such a vital staple in traditional German cuisine. 

DIY Kraut, Easy and Delicious 

If you can’t wait for Wurstfest and are ready to start making your own sauerkraut to reap these benefits or maybe simply to explore traditional German foods, this recipe is for you! 

Quick Kraut (Mason Jar Sauerkraut)

What You Will Need:

1-quart jar with lid and ring
1-head of cabbage (white or red)—save the first broadleaf, fine shred the rest
1-tablespoon of sea salt
1-weight that slips easily into the jar
Breathable cloth large enough to cover the jar opening

Recipe Instructions:

In a large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage until liquid pools. Pack the mixture into the jar mashing as you go to release air bubbles. Cut the broadleaf you didn’t shred into a circle just slightly larger than your jar opening. Flatten it on top of the mixture.
Next, place your weight on top. A bag of pebbles, a glass paperweight or a sterilized brick all work well as a weight. Pour in the remaining liquid. Cover the jar with a piece of breathable fabric or cheesecloth and secure your ring (lid will be used for the finished product). 
Place the jar out of direct sunlight and watch over it the next few days as the magic of fermentation commences! Quick kraut is ready to enjoy in about seven days. Remove the weight and your leaf, replace the jar lid and store kraut in the refrigerator.
*Delicious variations to fermented cabbage can include the addition of other vegetables (garlic, carrots, celery, radish) and spices such as fennel, anise, chili flakes or cayenne, to name a few. 

We hope you learned some basics about coveted German sauerkraut! Visit Hermann with an appetite for hands-on learning, ‘’Sip and Savor’’ at Wurstfest this year and then go home and experiment with your own batch of homemade Quick Kraut! Enjoy!

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