When people purchase a jar of our sauerkraut, they’re baffled with all the colors. I watch as their eyes go to the label, scan the ingredients, and wonder out loud, “How am I going to serve this and with what?” I’m thankful they share this concern, because I have the opportunity to tell them what I’m going to tell you.
First off, today’s sauerkraut is not your mother’s sauerkraut. Much of the kraut that is purchased at cooperatives, specialty stores, or at a Whole Foods Market are made in small batches, fermented for 2-10 weeks, flavored with other fermented vegetables and spices, and contain healthy bacteria numbered in the trillions. The limp sauerkraut that your mother bought at the local grocery store was loaded with vinegar, canned, and had a shelf life of 3-5 years. (It would be best to not mention its nutrient value here.) She probably served it with dumplings made with a pre-mixed baking mix, that also had a long shelf life and sausage that she bought at a meat shop. It was good eating, from what we hear, but not very nutritious.
If you’d like something with more nutrition, we would like to recommend that you eat our kraut right out of the jar or add a forkful or two on your plate at every meal. We do this ourselves and it’s hard to imagine a meal without it. If that doesn’t appeal to you, how about trying our kraut with a sandwich, a wrap, or even tacos. Our Latin American sauerkraut would be excellent for any of these. And lastly, if you want to cook your kraut in a meal, like your mom used to serve, we suggest you try the sausage and sauerkraut dish on our recipe page. This meal has flavor to spare, contains fresh ingredients, and would easily win your mother’s seal of approval.
My initial taste of a Reuben sandwich was at the Lincoln Del, a legendary bakery and deli in Bloomington, Minnesota. My wife and I were there on one of our first dates and she suggested that I order the classic favorite. Seeing my hesitation, she said, “You won’t regret it; it’s the best sandwich ever!” I wasn’t totally convinced, but I tried it anyway. To this day, I have never regretted my decision and look back nostagically on my wife’s recommendation. We enjoyed them for the next 25 years at the Del.
When the restaurant closed in 2000, it created a huge culinary void in my life. As a result, I had to find another Reuben to replace the one we were faithful to for so many years. I was relentless in my pursuit. If I was in a restaurant that had the sandwich on the menu, I would order it. It didn’t matter that the restaurant had a well-known entree. If they had a Reuben, I was good to go. Unfortunately, it’s hard to duplicate perfection, so only a few were suitable and many more were rip-offs. It’s been nearly another quarter of a century and I have never had anything like the signature meal offered at the Lincoln Del.
Now that we make our own sauerkraut, we are on a quest to create the sandwich that has been absent from our lives. Researching the origins for this remarkable creation has been fun and definitely encouraging. I believe I have the original recipes for the Reuben sandwich and the Thousand Island dressing created by Reuben Kulakofsky and Sophia LaLonde, respectively. After we put The Kraut Guy spin on them, watch for them to pop up on our recipe page.
Recently we sold our products for the first time at the farmers market at Veterans Memorial Park in Richfield, Minnesota. Like all of the farmers markets we’ve attended, Richfield’s market managers were friendly, attentive, and constantly looking for ways to help the vendors have a successful day.
One way the Richfield managers do this is through information sharing, not only amongst the vendors, but with the Richfield residents as well. Their Facebook page and a broadcast email had the following announcement prior to Saturday’s festivities:
This week we welcome a new vendor to the market, Joel Linker, “The Kraut Guy”! Joel brings a variety of homemade sauerkrauts to the market on Saturday. Welcome Joel!”
If you did not notice, my name was used three times, in three sentences, and recognition was established that I was the sauerkraut vendor at the market. An unbelievable marketing effort for a new vendor!
Because of this type of attention to detail, it was a great day and we were honored to be a part of the Richfield Farmers Market. They’ve been a class act since 1990.
The great American humorist, Will Rogers, said that he never met a man he didn’t like. He had the belief that if he found some appealing quality in a person that he met, eventually he would come to appreciate the whole person.
I feel the same way about fermented foods and drinks. I wasn’t always an advocate for fermenting cabbage. It wasn’t until I learned about the health benefits of sauerkraut that I started to look at cabbage for something other than coleslaw.
Since then I have researched and made kefir (a drinkable yogurt), rejuvelac (an awesome drink made with wheat berries), and fermented pickles and carrots. All of them were a far cry from anything you could buy in a store. These ancient and time-tested products had something to like about them; I just had to find it.
Now, I aminvestigating what to like about kombucha. Recently, I met Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory through their book, The Big Book of Kombucha. It’s a fascinating read on fermented sweet tea, that I am happy they wrote. Hannah & Alex have convinced me there’s a lot to like about kombucha.