Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Tribute to Sauerkraut

At the end of the Lenten fast and various other fasting periods observed by the Eastern churches throughout the year, people look forward to eating meat again: ham, sausage, and other rich treats, not to mention the various dairy-based deserts that can be indulged in. My guilty secret during the fast is that I very much enjoy one of the foods that I can eat to my heart’s content (if I don’t mind the risk of a stroke or heart attack from the high sodium content): sauerkraut. So I celebrate feast days by throwing a few pieces of meat into a big glob of sauerkraut. Another delicious combination, albeit also a sure invitation to high blood pressure, is pirohi with sauerkraut and sour cream. Some people prefer crunchy (undercooked) sauerkraut; I like sauerkraut cooked with onions to the point that there is a little bit of caramelization here and there. And caraway seeds make it all even better.

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite dishes for Holy Supper (eaten on Christmas Eve, the last meal of the Filipovka (St. Philip’s Fast), the pre-Nativity fast), Sauerkraut and Mushroom Soup:

1 quart sauerkraut
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds (we use more)
8 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup barley
2 cups sliced mushrooms (can be canned or fresh)
2 quarts water
15-20 peppercorns
2 medium onions, diced
8 tablespoons flour
5 cups water

Boil together sauerkraut, 2 quarts water, onion, peppercorns, and caraway seeds. Sauté onions in margarine and add approximately 8 tablespoons flour until mixture is dark brown. Cook barley in 5 cups water until tender. Combine all mixtures together and add mushrooms.

(From Epiphany’s Seasons: Twenty-five Years of Parish Recipes, compiled by the Ladies Guild of Epiphany of Our Lord Church, 1996)

Sauerkraut in other languages:

kvashenaya kapusta (Russian)
kiszona kapusta, kvasna kapusta (Polish)
kyslá kapusta (Slovak)
kiselo zele (Bulgarian)
kisla kapusta (Ukrainian)
kyselé zelí (Czech)
savanyú kaposzta (Hungarian)

Submitted for the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy: Food.


  1. Mmm-mmm good! I love sauerkraut...must be the Prussian in me. I can't wait to try this recipe.


  2. Despite my German-sounding name, there is very little German in my background and nothing Eastern European that I am aware of. There must be a gene that makes us love sour foods, though!

  3. I'm not a lover of sauerkraut, but your blog and history is most interesting....this from someone who does have German ancestry! I guess my UK roots must have won out in the food arena.