In celebration of Cincinnati’s German heritage and with a view to those upcoming New Year’s resolutions about healthy eating, today we feature simple, healthy sauerkraut.
Easy? You bet. There are only 2 ingredients you need to make one of the healthiest sides you can ever make. And there is more to sauerkraut than being just a side for hot dogs. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy your sauerkraut and to reap the health benefits of an old fashioned fixing that has stood the real test of time.
We also delve into Cincinnati, Ohio’s German heritage and the impact that has had on the local food scene including where is the best place to shop for German foodstuffs in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati’s Early History
Cincinnati, named for the Roman emperor Cincinnatus, was first settled in 1788. Rome, the city of seven hills, is sister city to Cincinnati.
Early on, Cincinnati contained a strong English, Scottish and protestant influence. At the time, Cincinnati found itself in a strategic position for growth as it had been founded on the Ohio River, where a strong river boat trade soon developed.
Coupled with this, the development of steam navigation along the Ohio River, enabled Cincinnati to became a “boom town” during a period of strong westerly, migration from within the US. River trade became big business as new companies developed to take advantage of the budding opportunities to the west.
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For a time, Cincinnati was also home to a booming hog processing plant. This led to the town being unfairly labelled with the rather unflattering name of “porkoplis”.
German Heritage in Cincinnati
Migration was not just from within the US but from Europe as well. Waves of immigrants arrived into Cincinnati over a 130-year period from the early 1800’s all the way through until the 1950’s.
One of the largest ethnic groups to migrate to the Cincinnati region was from Germany. The new arrivals brought many trades and skills with them as well as new foods to the Cincinnati area.
There has been German influence around Cincinnati since the 1830’s. More German immigrants settled in Cincinnati than any other city in the US.
As you would expect, it took some time for the newly arrived immigrants to fully meld into the local, American culture. A strong sub-culture developed around German-American traditions. Social clubs formed and Sunday getogethers were common.
At one time Cincinnati contained 4 German-language newspapers and beer halls were common.
Suburbs such as Over-the-Rhine became strong enclaves of German festivities and foods. Eventually these all became part of the mainstream of modern, Cincinnati society. It is here you will find Findlay Market, the best place to buy food within Cincinnati. You can now ride the new streetcar, the Cincinnati Connector, to enjoy the shopping and dining experience in this rather hip neighborhood.
You can also visit Germania Park for Oktoberfest, enjoy Christmas markets in the style of European Night Markets where you will find nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks and no end of tasteful decorations. By this time you are starting to smell all of that delicious, German food.
How about some sausage and mustard or maybe some pretzels. Wash it all down with some good beer and festive cheer. Or maybe gluhwein is more to your taste. Then there are the cheeses and breads. And make sure you leave room for the strudel, the best I have enjoyed.
Another of those classic, German dishes that started to appear with German migration was sauerkraut. Read on for how to make the easiest sauerkraut you will ever make.
Simple Healthy Sauerkraut With 2 Ingredients
Do yourself, your family and your friends a favor and make this simple sauerkraut. When made in the traditional way, sauerkraut is incredibly good for you. It is also inexpensive to make and is a side that goes with a variety of foods such as any pork or sausage dish.
How about corn beef, pastrami, reuben, your favorite hot dog, not to mention bratwursts and mettwursts?
With this recipe, there are no additives and no fancy ingredients, just cabbage and salt (I used celtic salt, which has substantial health benefits). Mix together and allow nature to do its job to produce fresh, healthy sauerkraut as a finished product.
The best way to allow the sauerkraut to ferment is to use a crock. I used a fabulous crock made by Mad Millie. It comes with weights to help press the cabbage down into the crock. Large mason jars also work.