Sauerkraut came to Europe via Asia, where people have been pickling cabbage for thousands of years. Because of its high vitamin C content, it was very useful in preventing scurvy and keeping people healthy throughout the winter months when no fresh food was available.
The Germans embraced the making of sauerkraut and you’ve no doubt heard the jokes that a grouchy German is a “Sour Kraut.” When the German people moved to Russia and later into the United States, many relocated to the sauerkraut triangle area of Emmons, Logan and McIntosh counties. The recipes from the old country evolved and the recipes familiar to this area are unique.
Here is a simple recipe for an old favorite:
Kneophla, Potatoes and Sauerkraut
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
22 ounces sauerkraut, drained
1. Combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, egg and warm water in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix well.
2. Knead the dough, adding flour until the dough in stiff and hard to work with, let the dough rest.
3. Roll dough into a 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide cylinder.
4. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Using scissors cut dough in 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces into the boiling water. Kneophla will sit on the bottom of the pot until almost done. When almost finished cooking the kneophla will rise to the surface. Once they have risen to the surface let them cook 2 minutes longer. Drain well.
5. Place oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Fry until potatoes are cooked through and golden brown.
6. While potatoes are frying place 1 tablespoon butter in a non-stick skillet, heat over medium-high heat. Place kneophla in frying pan. Fry until kneophla are browned.
7. When both kneophla and potatoes are nicely browned combine them in one skillet. Add the sauerkraut to the kneophla, potato mixture and heat through. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information: Amount Per Serving Calories: 500 | Total Fat: 8.3g | Cholesterol: 40mg
To make your own sauerkraut you will rely on the bacteria found on the cabbage leaves. The salt draws out the water and kills off the spoilage bacteria. You will need between a 0.6% and 2% salt concentration, which equals 3/4 to 2 teaspoons of table salt per pound of prepared cabbage.
Making sauerkraut is not a difficult process and if you’d like more information about how to make it and you have web access, put http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/he433w.htm into your browser and you will come up with: Sauerkraut: From Garden to Table, FN-433 (Revised), Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist, Ronald Smith, Ph.D., Horticulture Specialist. You may also contact our office at 754-2504 and request that publication.
People who have moved from the sauerkraut triangle may have found that the food of their youth, made with love in their grandmother’s kitchen may not be available to them in other parts of the country. The sour tang of sauerkraut together with the comfort foods of kneophla and potatoes can transport us back and make us ripe for remembrances.
An organization formed in the sauerkraut triangle has been working hard to collect recipes, photographs and food culture stories of the Germans from Russia immigrants. With the help of financial institutions in the three counties, (namely to date: the McIntosh County Bank, in Ashley and the Hazelton Bank), publication of a beautiful coffee table/cookbook will be available in the summer of 2013. For more information about this effort go to: https://dasguteessen.com/
The organization has a working title of the Tri-County Tourism Alliance, however, a more descriptive title is: German-Russian Country: Prairie Legacy, which is how they can be found on facebook. The Alliance meets monthly in different locations throughout the three counties and encourages interested parties to join us in the efforts to preserve and promote the culture of the Germans from Russia who settled in the sauerkraut triangle.
As always, if you have any questions about this column or anything else I can help you with, please stop by the office (2nd floor of the courthouse located at 301 Broadway in Napoleon), or call 754-2504, or email me at: email@example.com. I would be glad to help!
Carmen Rath-Wald, NDSU Extension Service
Logan County, 301 Broadway, Napoleon, ND 58561