The optimal thickness should be around 2-3 mm, or about ⅛ inch.
When slicing cabbage for Sauerkraut, the consistency of the individual cabbage shreds is important!
If there is one item that deserves the moniker ‘superfood’, it’s Sauerkraut.
This has survived the test of time not just because of its extraordinary delectability (sure, it takes a while for some to really like it).
So many more are after its health benefits.
On top of those, this is extremely easy to make!
Some recipes may call for other veggies but all you need is cabbage and salt.
It is said that the real trick to this tangy, fermented slaw is the slice.
So how should this hearty leafy vegetable be sliced for this side dish/condiment?
A regular Chef’s knife will usually do the trick.
A mandolin works better for this particular job and it is a great option for those who aren’t confident with their blade skills.
The food processor is also an efficient alternative, especially if there are several pieces of vegetables that need shredding.
Before we go into detail, let’s get to know our featured ferment a bit more.
A Short History of the Sauerkraut
It may surprise a lot but this didn’t originate from Germany, although they did popularize it and gave its denomination.
The truth is, the Chinese were the first who prepared this two millennia ago.
It was the Dutch who brought it to Europe from their voyages to Asia since this prevented Scurvy, a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency that afflicted sailors.
The name the Germans gave it is as simple as it is: Sauer means sour and Kraut means cabbage.
The way they ate it is pretty straightforward too – as a side dish and/or condiment for their wursts or sausages.
The tang of the ferment and the saltiness of the cured meats were a great match, after all.
Is It Merely a Condiment?
The Germans introduced this to the US at the turn of the 19th century. Soon, it became a popular topping on hotdogs on buns.
But this isn’t just an accompaniment to sausages or a relish to sidewalk sandwiches now, with these recipes:
• Slow-cooked Sauerkraut Stew
• Sour Cabbage and Potato Salad
• German Meatballs
• Sauerkraut Choc’lit Cake
• Ferment Latkes
Cooking those wouldn’t be hard because Sauerkraut is so easy to make.
As long as you slice the vegetable right, you’ll always come up with something that will be a cut above the rest.
Below are some techniques which you can work on, using the different tools for shredding your veggies.
1. A Regular Kitchen Knife Is Enough
This is the most convenient way to do it since everyone has a knife at home. But take note of the following:
• A chef’s knife is good enough but a Nakiri is better. Specifically made for chopping and shredding veggies, this is a smaller and slimmer Japanese version of a wide cleaver.
Whichever you’ll use, make sure that this is sharp and well-honed.
• Work on a stable surface. A wide, thick chopping board is a must-have too.
• To start, wash your cabbage and then cut it into quarters, exposing the layers of the leaves on the sides. Remove the white, thick wedge at the bottom of each quarter.
• Lay the segment of the vegetable flat on the board. The other flat side is where you can start slicing.
• With your non-dominant hand securing the piece on the board and your knuckles as the knife’s guide, start slicing it as thinly as you can.
• When you finished half of the segment, turn it sideways exposing the other flat side. Continue slicing until you’ve completed shredding it all.
• Grab another segment and resume slicing.
2. Try the Mandolin
While the knife is incredibly versatile, no one can deny that the mandolin is a god-send in the kitchen because it can make even slices faster and safer.
If you haven’t got this, treat yourself and buy one as soon as possible.
• Halve your cabbage with a knife and remove the thick white wedge in the middle.
• Secure the smooth, outer part of the segment on the protective holder. The flat side showing the layers of the cabbage is where you’ll start slicing.
• Shred the veggie by running it up and down the blade of the mandolin.
Halving the piece is better so you get longer, thinner strands.
But if the cabbage is really big, cut it into quarters.
3. Use the Food Processor
Newer models have disc attachments for grating, grinding, and slicing various foods. Set that up, plug the appliance in, and start shredding.
• Instead of quarters, slice the cabbage into six or eight sections. Each part should fit in the chute.
• Turn the machine on and insert the segment into the feeding tube, pressing it down with the pusher.
The only trouble with this is that you get short shreds with inconsistent thickness.
But if you don’t mind that, then there is no problem.