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Liberty Cabbage: 1918

Liberty Cabbage: 1918

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "Food Administration: Making sauerkraut." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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My first thought upon seeing this very interesting picture was about the sauerkraut I currently have processing and the large heads of cabbage I still need to get shredded and salted. There is no vinegar used, just cabbage and salt, left to ferment at room temperature, for three weeks or so. I am wondering what those barrels in the picture might have been lined with.

As for where sauerkraut originated, I suspect that the method of preservation was used in a much wider area than could be determined as being from one country (not to mention the fact that the borders in that area have been repeatedly rearranged). I know that my German-Russian ancestors made sauerkraut. I have inherited the sauerkraut cutter they brought to America more than a century ago. Several generations had been born and died in Russia, but prior to that they had lived in Germany.

Incidentally, I never saw sauerkraut on a menu in the western part of what was then West Germany, where we lived for three years. I was surprised by that! It was on menus in the Bavarian and Black Forest regions, however.

Sauerkraut Boosterism

Sauerkraut Is Not German

Dutch, Says Food Administration,
Urging Patriots to Eat More of It.

On account of its supposedly German name, sauerkraut seems to be losing its popularity as an American dish. The food administration has learned that throughout the country men and women in their patriotic zeal have been spreading a strong propaganda to discourage the use of a valuable foodstuff.

As a matter of fact the dish is Dutch rather than of German origin. Its wider use would stimulate a greater use of cabbage and would further the food administration's campaign for increased consumption of perishable foodstuffs and a greater saving of the staple foods needed abroad. Sauerkraut is a valuable food, and its use should not be curtailed as a result of ill-advised patriotism.

Washington Post, May 31, 1918

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