Wednesday, September 12, 2001

German brand tops sauerkraut taste test

But cooks say secret is in the preparation

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        To find the best-tasting sauerkraut, we asked four experienced German cooks — Camilla Schwab of Springfield Township, Marie Lichtenberger of Reading, Renate Schreiber of Springfield Township and Hella Rehner of White Oak — to put five common brands to the test. The women blindly tasted the uncooked sauerkraut in the Germania Society kitchen in Colerain Township.

        They quickly declared the winner to be the German brand Leuchtenberg “Wein” Sauerkraut. The cooks preferred its sweeter flavor and more tender texture. Sauerkraut made by Kaiser Foods in Cincinnati's West End finished second in our taste test.

        “But the secret to making good sauerkraut is not the brand,” says Ms. Schwab, chair of the Germania Society Ladies Auxiliary. “You make good sauerkraut by cooking it a long time.”

        She prepares sauerkraut by draining and rinsing it thoroughly. After sauteing onions in melted shortening or lard, she adds the drained sauerkraut with fresh water. She simmers it for about two hours, until tender, and sometimes adds sliced apples and caraway seed.

        How the German cooks rated the sauerkraut:

        1. Leuchtenberg “Wein” Sauerkraut (Germany)

        Price: $1.95/ 500 grams (1 pound, 2 ounces).

        Where we bought it: Krause's of Findlay Market.

        2. Kaiser Foods (West End)

       Price: $1.50 per pound.

        Where we bought it: Kroeger & Sons Meats, Findlay Market.

        3. Linz & Sons (Camp Washington)

        Price: 89 cents per pound.

        Where we bought it: Silverglade's, Findlay Market.

        4. Barrel (Germany)

        Price: per 28.5-ounce jar.

        Where we bought it: German Cuisine, Florence.

        5. Boar's Head Brand (United States)

       Price: $1.29 per pound.

        Where we bought it: Party Source, Bellevue.


       Sauerkraut balls are actually an American creation. But the women at the Germania Society make more than 10,000 every year to sell at their Oktoberfest in August.

        Camilla's Sauerkraut Balls

       1 cup onions, minced finely
       3 tablespoons butter
       1 cup each: finely chopped ham (fat trimmed) and finely chopped corned beef
       1 clove garlic, minced
       4 cups drained and chopped sauerkraut
       Dash each: seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce
       1 tablespoon chopped parsley
        1/2 cup beef stock
       6 tablespoons flour
       2 eggs, beaten


       1 cup flour
       Egg wash (2 eggs, beaten and mixed with 4 tablespoons milk)
       2 cups fine bread crumbs
       Oil for frying

        Saute minced onion in butter over medium heat in large pot until soft. Add chopped meat and garlic and stir. Add sauerkraut, seasoned salt, Worcestershire, parsley and beef stock; stir to combine. Add flour and stir to incorporate well.

        While stirring, add two beaten eggs and stir rapidly and constantly for about 1 minute, until eggs are incorporated. Mixture should be stiff. Spread into shallow pan and refrigerate until chilled.

        To make sauerkraut balls, roll about 1 teaspoon of sauerkraut mixture in palms until walnut-size. When all balls are formed, roll them first in flour, then in egg wash and finally in bread crumbs. (Refrigerate sauerkraut balls for an hour or so, if necessary, to make them firm.)

        Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees and fry sauerkraut balls until golden. Sauerkraut balls can be frozen for several weeks. Reheat in 350-degree oven, or fry briefly. Makes 80 sauerkraut balls.

       — Camilla Schwab


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