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National food

Buckwheat as side dish

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Sour cabbage (or sauerkraut)

Natonal soups

Borscht - famous red soup

Shchi - cabbage soup

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McDonalds in Russia

Sour (or leavened) cabbage – Russian national food


1 Introduction

2 List of ingredients and cooking technology

3 How to eat sour cabbage in Russian way

4 How and where to taste sour cabbage in Russia

5 How to bring sour cabbage from Russia

6 It is important

7 Interesting facts about sour cabbage in Russia

8 History of sour cabbage in Russia


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In many countries, sour cabbage is considered as a unique German foodstuff, but this food is widespread in many regions of Central and Eastern Europe. Russians are sure it is one of our national food products. We call this dish “leavened cabbage” (Rus. “kvashenaya kapusta”) or “sour cabbage” (Rus. “kislaya kapusta”). The German word “sauerkraut” is not used at all in Russia.

Warning! According our experience, 90% of all foreigners don't like this dish, and you should be ready, that you will not be pleased when will taste it.

From the ancient times, this dish was a perfect way of conserving cabbage for the winter time. The unique feature of sour cabbage is it doesn't need any additions for starting fermentation. Useful bacteria inhabit on the surface of cabbage leaves. The preparation technology is cheap and simple; we will talk about it in details below.

Sour cabbage does not rot and may be stored up to 12 months. It is because a large amount of lactic acid appears during the fermentation process. The sour taste has the same reason.

List of ingredients and cooking technology

There are two types of sour cabbage in Russia. The first is the traditional type made of only four ingredients – cabbage, carrot, salt and sugar. When we prepare sour cabbage at home, we use this recipe.

The technology is simple. You need to shred carrot and cabbage and mix it with salt and sugar. This mix should be placed in a jar. A few times in a day, you need to pierce it with a spoon or fork to let the gas out. The taste will have changed from bitter to sour after 3 or more days. Sour cabbage is ready.

There are few additions to receive the better taste; apple or cranberry are most prevalent. If you add some beetroot, then the mix will have unusual red color. The idea is used in famous Russian soup borscht.

In the old times every household prepared sour cabbage inside large wooden barrels. Nowadays, glass cans are commonly used.

Most of Russians consider this technology is 1000 years old, but they are wrong. Salt was extremely expensive in the old Russia. You could buy a large house for 1 pyd (35 pounds or 16 kilograms) of salt.

Sugar was available, but more expensive than salt. Until the 17th century, only a richest people could eat sugar in Russia.

This dish was cooked without sugar and salt in the old times in Russia. Salt does not take part in the fermentation process, and sugar was replaced with apples or with increasing the amount of carrot.

The second type is common for food factories. Most of the manufacturers are not ready to wait from 3 to 7 days until the fermentation process will have done. They calculate their money. They add yeasts and milk to make the process faster. To tell the truth, we do not recommend purchasing this sort.

How to eat sour cabbage in Russian way

Sour cabbage is a popular side dish. It is also used as an ingredient in few national salads – potato salad and vinegret . If not to shred cabbage, then the leaves are good for other national Russian dish golubtsy. In the winter time it is used as a filling for a pie.

Some sources on the internet say sour cabbage is a necessary ingredient for national Russian soup shchi. It is not true. There are four basic recipes of shchi, but sour cabbage is necessary only for one sort.

Shchi may be made of sour cabbage, fresh cabbage and even without cabbage at all. In the photo on the right, you may see shchi made of nettle.

Of course, we Russians eat sour cabbage as a standalone dish. We believe it improves digestion and we eat this dish usually at lunch at first.

The first food is called “appetizer” in most of countries, but we call it “zakuska” in Russia. It is funny, if you eat something before main food, then it will be called zakuska in Russian language. If you eat something after main dishes, then it will be also called zakuska. Foreigners can not understand the logic.

Sour cabbage is one of the best foods to eat with Russian vodka. The food you eat with alcohol drinks is also called zakuska in Russia. The two most widespread zakuska for vodka are salted cucumbers and sour cabbage.

We also believe, that it is one of the best cures against hangover. As you see, sour cabbage is closely associated with the culture of drinking alcohol in Russia. There is an opinion sour cabbage gives the resistance to alcohol, but do not be too active to avoid the sad result (see photo).

Reading this article, you maybe think all Russians eat sour cabbage every day and love this dish. If you think this way, then you are wrong, and we are sorry for providing you with this wrong feeling. To tell the truth, most Russians do not like sour cabbage and never eat it pure. But all Russians eat the dishes made of sour cabbage – shchi, salads and pies.

How and where to taste sour cabbage in Russia

You should visit a supermarket. You can buy it in plastic cans or by weight. You may sometimes find it packed in glass jars, and we advise to choose this type if it is available.

You should watch for expiration date – it is important. We told already, sour cabbage can store up to 12 months, but this is only applicable to homemade sorts.

If you purchase sour cabbage in a supermarket, its storage time will be about 7-14 days. We do not recommend buying a large can, because it will be hard to eat it all. Better to choose a small jar with 300 grams like in the photo on the right.

Unfortunately, there are no strong brands of sour cabbage in Russia. The quality is different, and you can check it only by reading the information about the composition on the sticker. If you find this information in English, then you will be sure you lucky.

How to bring sour cabbage from Russia

It is easy. You just need to go to a supermarket and purchase it. We advise to try to find most fresh. You need to know in Russian supermarkets the most fresh products are usually placed back on the shelf. The owners try to sell oldest packages first of all.

It is important

Sour cabbage is very healthy, but you need to know:

- If you have any problems with heart, you should not eat it,

- If you have any problems with the digestive system, you should not eat it,

- Do not eat a lot of sour cabbage (not more than 300 grams in one day), because it may harmful for you.

Interesting facts about sour cabbage in Russia

- Useful substances in sour cabbage are more easy digested than in fresh cabbage. It is a unique situation, then cooked vegetable is more healthy than fresh.

- Sour cabbage contains only 19 calories in 100 grams. If you want to lose weight, it will be the best choice. Our body needs to spend more calories to digest this food than receives from it.

Sour cabbage is the record-holder in misbeliefs among all dishes in Russia. Some of these misbeliefs are funny, but some can harm your health.

- Some Russian women think, that eating sour cabbage increases breast size. Unfortunately, scientific researches show us this way does not work.

- Some Russian men think, that eating sour cabbage improves potency. Unfortunately, the result is the same - this method does not work.

- There is a misbelief, that sour cabbage has a bad taste if to cook it in a bad mood.

History of sour cabbage in Russia

This dish is one of the oldest in the Russian cuisine; it came from the Byzantine Empire to ancient Russia in the 9th century.

Some sources on the internet say, that sour cabbage was invented in China and came to Europe with Mongolian invasion of Genghis Khan. This theory seems very funny. Mongolians were nomads and never cultivated cabbage; they never cultivated any other plants and ate meat and dairy products.

Eating vegetables is a shame for nomads. Believe us, we Russians know about nomads more than other European nations, because we fought them for more than a thousand years.

The recipe is simple; it is easy to find it accidentally. Most probably, many nations invented this dish separately, and Russians are in this list.

We hope you will like Russian sour cabbage and other pages of our website (links may be found below and on the left from the main text of this article).

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