Saurkraut in English History?
My paternal grandmother's family were fresh-off-the -boat at the turn of the century from Northumberland, England. Their traditional New Year's Day meal was always roast pork braised in saurkraut with flour dumplings on top. No one was Germanic, and I cannot understand why these Brits ate saurkraut. Can anyone cast a light on this mystery for me?
Preserving with salt is an ancient technique practiced world wide. Anywhere that cabbage was grown a variety of sauerkraut evolved.
In regards to England by the time ( late 1700's) Capt. Cook was sailing the Pacific sauerkraut was known to help prevent scurvy and was very available at ship provisioning companies.
You may find Mark Kurlansky's book "Salt" interesting. It contains a fair amount of information on sauerkraut in various lands and has a number of recipes.
I think you are just looking at the name, as you know it, and that makes you think, fermented cabbage only existed in Germany. Storing and preserving food for use during non-growing seasons, especially in cold climates, was very important. Fermenting was a great way to preserve cabbage, and evidence of it's being seen, goes as far back as 2000 years ago in China and Rome. It has many health benefits as well. Back then, things like scurvy were serious diseases and fermented foods helped keep that at bay.
Keep in mind as well, that cabbage as well as many root vegetables, were what most common people ate, as meat was difficult to get and preserve.
curious about this post, and wondering about german influence in northumberland, i found this possible avenue for your further research: http://www.genealogy-of-uk.com/England/Northumberland/genealogy.htm
due to scotland's great influence there, this may be useful to explore, esp. re food and drink and old recipes http://www.electricscotland.com/food/...
from ""THE PRACTICE OF COOKERY
By MRS. DALGAIRNS. 1840""
""TO MAKE SOUR KROUT.
The best cabbage for this purpose is the drum, or white Strasburg, and it should not be used till it has endured some severe frost; the stocks are then cut into halves, and shred down as fine as possible with a knife, or more properly with a plane made in the form of a cucumber slice. Burn a little juniper in a cask or tub which is perfectly sound and clean, and put a little leaven into the seam round the bottom, - flour and vinegar may be substituted for leaven; then put in three or four handfuls of cabbage, a good sprinkling of salt, and a tea-spoonful of caraway see, and press this hard with a wooden mallet; next add another layer of cabbage, with salt and caraway seed, as at first; and so on in the same manner until the cask be full, pressing sown each layer firmly as you advance. A good deal of water will come to the top, of which a part may be taken off. The cask being full, put on the head so as to press upon the cabbage, and place it in a warm cellar to ferment; when it has worked well for three weeks, take off the scum which will have gathered on the top, and lay a clean cloth on the krout; replace the head, and put two or three heavy stones upon it. The juice should always stand upon the top. Thus, in a good cellar, it will keep for years.
When to be dressed, it is boiled for five or six hours in water, or stewed with a little gravy, and may be also substituted for a crust over a beef-steak pie, when cheese is grated over it.""
interestingly, this cookbook also has a recipe for "westphalia ham" in the pork section:
Rub each ham well with an ounce and a half of pounded saltpetre, and an equal quantity of course brown sugar. The following day, boil, in a quart of strong stale beer or porter, a pound of bay salt, the same of common salt, half a pound of coarse brown sugar, of pounded black pepper and cloves an ounce each, and a small bit of sal prunella. Pour it boiling hot over the ham, and let it lie a fortnight, rubbing and turning it twice or thrice daily, when it should be smoked a fortnight.