Sweet or Sauer: the Catalyst of Sauerkraut Flavor
You can’t quite put your finger on it-- “that” taste distinctly associated with sauerkraut... Where does it come from? “That” taste is the result of a vast community of lactic acid bacteria (LABs) and microorganisms breaking down cabbage carbohydrates for energy and releasing lactic acid and carbon dioxide into the substrate. The birth of sauerkraut's pungent aroma and tangy taste is the result millions of lacto- ferment microbes at work on that very spoonful of kraut entering a soon-to-be, well-fed lower GI.
These complex flavors arise from fermentation that sets up the ideal environment, beneath a salty anaerobic brine, for lactic acid bacteria to live, eat, reproduce and die-all in the name of fermentation. The lactic acid bacteria enter the sauerkraut via the cabbage leaves and surrounding environment (hands, soil, air). These factors (along with temperature, length of ferment, salt quantity and variety, cabbage species and freshness, etc. ) contribute to the taste profile of kraut. The microcosm within the batch of kraut goes through cyclical patterns where different lactic acid bacteria species dominate the substrate. With time (days to weeks) the pH of the brine will drop to around 4 and the tangy, sour, LAB flavors become distinct. We are looking for descriptive terms that illuminate the wondrous taste that results from the LABs. Any feedback through comments is greatly appreciated.
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Katz, Sandor Ellix, and Michael Pollan. The Art of Fermentation: An In-depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.